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Former hardliners take a more lenient stance on immigration

Last week this blog noted that real immigration reform appears to be close to reality for the first time in years. One of the main reasons a comprehensive revision of immigration law finally seems possible is that a number of Republican lawmakers have adopted a noticeably softer stance on the issue since their party lost the last presidential election.

In the mid-2000s there was a significant shift among Republicans to a more hard-line stance on immigration. Some believe this was actually contrary to traditional Republican views on immigration. Now a number of GOP politicians appear to have suddenly seen the light.

For example, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky attempted in 2011 to end the right to citizenship for children born in the United States to undocumented aliens. More recently, he has supported legislation that would allow undocumented immigrants to legalize their status. He has also said that if immigration reform passes, he may reconsider his stand on birthright citizenship.

Another former hardliner, Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, opposed the DREAM Act in 2010. That law would have provided permanent resident status and a shot at citizenship for some young immigrants. More recently, Cantor said he supports the basic tenets of that proposed law.

Other former hardliners who now favor more lenient immigration rules include Representatives Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, Jim Jordan of Ohio, and Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. Rubio is now a member of the so-called "Gang of Eight" lawmakers who are working on a comprehensive reform of U.S. immigration law.

If immigration reform passes, a path to citizenship may open up for currently undocumented immigrants. But chances are it will be a complicated process. An experienced immigration attorney will be able to help individuals assess their specific situation and negotiate their own route to naturalization.

Source: Washington Post, "Republicans on immigration reform: Before and after," Rachel Weiner, March 20, 2013

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