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House Dem: 'Middle ground' on immigration would create subclass of citizens

"These are type B Americans, right? We have type A and type B. The ones that get taxed but don't get representation. The ones that have all the responsibility but none of the great benefits of being a citizen. Look, this is precisely where we make a mistake," Garcia, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security, said on MSNBC.

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A number of top Republicans have signaled a willingness to pass immigration reform, but there is strong resistance in the House to providing a pathway to citizenship for illegal residents.

"Are there options we should consider between the extremes of mass deportation and a pathway to citizenship?" Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, asked Tuesday during the first hearing by his panel on immigration reform in the 113th Congress.

An agreement on citizenship is one of the biggest hurdles in the push for immigration reform. While a number of House Republicans have called the idea "amnesty," some Senate Republicans have backed a pathway in principle, so long as it only becomes available after border security is tightened.

Garcia said immigration reform without a pathway to citizenship would lead the country to a failed immigration system similar to those in other countries.

"If you look at failed immigration systems — you look at the German immigration system, you look at the French system where people don't become French, they don't become German, they are Turks who live in Germany or they become Muslims who live in Paris," Garcia said. "The reality is we need full Americans. These folks work hard. They take care of our children. They pick our fields. They work in the most difficult jobs and what we need to do is make them pay their back taxes, make them learn English, get them in the back of the line and at the end they get the great benefit, bounty of being an American citizen."

Asked about the timeline for Congress to pass immigration reform, Garcia predicted the first step would come from the Senate.

"I think the Senate is pretty close to having something very comprehensive," Garcia said. "I don't see that willingness in my colleagues on the House side. Hopefully we'll get something out. My hope is that by the middle of summer we'll get something for the president to sign."