Rep. George Holding, a Raleigh Republican, said he would not vote for any immigration bill that includes a pathway to citizenship for hundreds of thousands of immigrants who were brought to the country illegally as children.
As negotiations between President Donald Trump, the Senate and House continue over what to do with people who had been protected by the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Holding’s stance offers a glimpse at how difficult it could be to solve the problem.
“If there is a pathway to citizenship put into the law, I would not be in favor of it. It doesn’t mean they can’t stay here. It doesn’t mean they can’t have some status here. We could find a way for that,” Holding said.
“I’d be willing to look for a way for them to have a status so they stay. But becoming a citizen? I don’t believe so. I think people need to understand that breaking the law has consequences. So an adult who brings a child in and all of a sudden they say, ‘Oh, it was a child. They didn’t know.’ You are a parent. You are an adult. Breaking the law has consequences and that will flow down to your children.”
In September, Trump rescinded the Obama-era executive order creating the DACA program and shielding so-called Dreamers from deportation. Trump gave Congress six months, until March, to come up with a solution for the DACA population.
North Carolina’s DACA population stands at more than 27,000 people.
The two most prominent immigration bills in the Senate – the DREAM Act, backed by many Democrats, and the SUCCEED Act, sponsored by North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis – would allow DACA recipients to eventually become citizens. Much of the public debate has been about what border security measures or other immigration-related measures, such as ending chain migration and the diversity lottery visa program, to include in a bill to fix DACA. Chain migration allows immigrants who have become U.S. citizens or green card holders to bring extended family to the country.
House conservatives, however, unveiled a proposal Wednesday that would allow DACA recipients to obtain renewable work permits, but would not offer a path to citizenship.
That’s the type of legislation that Holding would be able to support.
“What I would never be able to support is a pathway to citizenship for people who have come here illegally. For me, that is giving the fruits of what you tried to achieve illegally. Illegal actions have consequences,” he said. “I realize that people who came here illegally might have brought young children with them, but those are consequences. If they came here illegally, I don’t believe they should have citizenship.”