100 People to Watch This Fall : Page 39 of 102


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Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) House Judiciary Committee chairman

Now in his 11th term, the Virginia Republican took the gavel of the Judiciary Committee in January and has led the House GOP’s “step-by-step” approach to immigration reform. After numerous hearings, the panel passed four individual immigration bills on party-line votes that deal with border security, interior enforcement, the E-Verify system for employers and an agricultural guest-worker program. One or more of those bills could come to the House floor in September.

Goodlatte strongly opposes the Senate immigration bill, and while he insists he will not back a “special” pathway to citizenship, he has offered an alternative of sorts in recent weeks: He has said that he would be open to providing legal status to the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States and that this classification would put them in line to gain citizenship through means already available.

The chairman is also working with Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) on legislation known as the Kids Act, which would provide a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought illegally into the United States as children by their parents.

Democrats say Goodlatte has set a better tone on immigration in the Judiciary Committee than the panel’s previous chairman, Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas). But they are skeptical that he shares their goal of ultimately producing a comprehensive overhaul that includes a path to citizenship for all of the immigrants.

Goodlatte has placed heavy emphasis on border security and interior enforcement, only recently beginning to address the question of illegal immigrants. When pushed on timing, he has repeatedly told reporters that he believes it is “more important to get it done right” than it is to get it done quickly.

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