U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, offered a sneak peek at a new U.S. House of Representatives immigration reform bill May 28 during a Greater Leander Chamber of Commerce luncheon.
Carter told the group of 127 Leander-area business leaders that he has met—in secret until recently—the past four years with a bipartisan group of U.S. House officials to create comprehensive immigration legislation.
"There's too much division even within the [political] parties on this issue," he said. "You're not going to get this big problem fixed" without compromise.
While he could not release specific details of the plan, he did acknowledge that the proposed reform would include a 14-year window before legal immigrants could be eligible for citizenship, and they would be required to learn English. Also, Carter said he would not support any amnesty for illegal immigrants or allow immediate citizenship for incoming immigrants.
"You won't be able to say we gave a free pass to citizenship," he said.
When asked, Carter also said he does not support allowing automatic citizenship to "anchor babies," American-born infants whose parents are illegal immigrants, but such a policy change would require modifying the U.S. Constitution—a steep task, he said.
But until some reform takes place, Carter told the business-focused crowd that Texas stands to lose the most economically from illegal immigration. The state in particular, he said, pays too much to thwart criminals who are here illegally. He also said immigration reform, if approved, could help allow many immigrants educated in Texas to remain in the United States.
"Economically for the state of Texas, there is probably no bigger issue right now in Washington D.C.," Carter said, explaining that Texas has the largest influx of immigrants of any state.
There is no timeline for the group's bill, although it should be heard on the U.S. House floor sometime this year.