Boehner, Ryan offer conditional legalization, more foreign workers in immigration proposal

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The immigration proposal laid out by House GOP leadership includes a way for the 12 million Democratic-leaning illegal immigrants to live and work in the country under a conditional legal status.

“These persons could live legally and without fear in the U.S., but only if they were willing to admit their culpability, pass rigorous background checks, pay significant fines and back taxes, develop proficiency in English and American civics, and be able to support themselves and their families (without access to public benefits),” according to a set of principles pitched to Republicans at a retreat in Cambridge, Md.

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan explained the proposal in a CNN interview, saying it would “get people right with the law.”

The proposal, offered to House members by Speaker John Boehner, also suggested that immigration is intended to help the nation’s economy and government, not American citizens.

“The overriding purpose of our immigration system is to promote and further America’s national interests and that is not the case today,” the document reads. “Visa and green card allocations need to reflect the needs of employers and the desire for these exceptional individuals to help grow our economy.”

“The goal of any temporary worker program should be to address the economic needs of the country and to strengthen our national security,” the proposal reads.

The document said a deal must allow companies to import university-trained foreign workers, who would compete against the 800,000 Americans who graduate each years with skilled degrees in search of well-paid professional jobs.

“Every year thousands of foreign nationals pursue degrees at America’s colleges and universities, particularly in high skilled fields. Many of them want to use their expertise in U.S. industries that will spur economic growth and create jobs for Americans,” says the proposal.

Roughly 800,000 foreign professionals are now working as guest workers in the United States.

The proposal would allow the 12 million illegals to compete for jobs sought by the four million Americans who turn 18 each year. Some, including “criminal aliens, gang members, and sex offenders,” would not be eligible for legal status.

The document called for additional low-skill guest workers for the agriculture industry, who would compete for jobs sought Americans and recent immigrants. “Of particular concern are the needs of the agricultural industry, among others,” it says.

The plan was lauded by business groups, including ImmigrationWorks, which represents the interests of small and mid-sized companies that hire lower-skilled workers.

The advocacy group praised “the commitment to create new, better, streamlined programs to admit foreign workers, high-skilled and low-skilled — workers who will grow U.S. businesses and contribute to the economy, creating jobs for American workers by filling gaps that would otherwise go unfilled at the top and bottom of the jobs pyramid.”

A recent Rasmussen poll shows that small-government tea party activists oppose the increased immigration laid out in the Senate immigration bill by 79 percent to 19 percent.

Fifty percent of swing-voting moderates oppose the tripling, while only 36 percent favor the increase, Rasmussen found.

A June report by the Congressional Budget Office said the Senate immigration rewrite would raise unemployment, lower average wages and shift more of the nation’s wealth from workers to investors.

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