There are many estimates of how many immigrants are living in the country outside the legal immigration system, but the widely accepted figure is 11 million people. Some of these people did not choose to come here, but were brought as children. Others never intended to remain here without a valid visa, but after they were unable to work within the legal immigration system, including filing for asylum, they fell off the grid but remained.
Often called “undocumented” or, worse yet, “illegal” immigrants, these people have been living in Reading and across the country for a very long time. While some people are opposed to President Obama’s goal of providing a pathway to citizenship for these immigrants, the other end of the spectrum — mass deportations — seems problematic.
Unfortunately, it seems that Tea Party Republicans in the House of Representatives have set their eyes on this group of people. They are strongly opposed to granting “amnesty” to individuals whom they see as being in the country illegally. Whether they expect these immigrants to pay fines and fees to remain in the country remains to be seen, but it would be hard to imagine that they realistically want to send every single noncitizen in the U.S. without a valid visa back to their home countries.
The Tea Party does not have the support of all Republicans, however. In fact, House Speaker John Boehner has indicated that he would like to work with Democrats to pass some kind of immigration reform. Sadly, he does not think he will be able to get the necessary votes anytime soon.
Source: The Boston Globe, “Boehner says House is not likely to pass immigration bill,” Jonathan Weisman, Feb. 7, 2014