Representative Don Young wants you to know he’s sensitive.
“I don’t like the term illegal,” he said in his Capitol Hill office Thursday afternoon.
Young said he supports a shorter path to citizenship for future immigrants. He thinks four years is plenty of time for a person to successfully navigate the immigration process including background checks, applications and approval.
As for the 11 million people living in the United States illegally, he said they need to wait until all current pending legal applicants finalize their process. People call that “moving to the back of the line.” And it’s a major portion of the Senate version of the bill. Most expect that to take at least a dozen years.
Young said few of his Republican colleagues agree with that plan. A late breakthrough on Thursday over border security could add sway skeptical Republicans to support the bill. It would spend tens of billions of dollars on surveillance and Border Patrol agents on the Mexican border.
Young labeled the Senate bill “dead on arrival” in the House.
“Right now I’m just watching what’s happening. It may not even come to a vote,” he said. “That could happen very easily.”
Speaker of the House John Boehner made that abundantly clear earlier this week.
“I don’t see any way of bringing an immigration bill to the floor that doesn’t have majority support of Republicans,” he said at Republican headquarters.
On Thursday 171 of Boehner’s Republicans voted against the Farm Bill, issuing him the latest rebuke. It failed, and left him scrambling to shore up support from his members.
The Senate immigration bill will not get the majority of his Republican conference on board. So it’s possible the House brings up its own measure; Young said it will come piecemeal instead of as a comprehensive package.
Young voted against the last successful overhaul that legalized millions of illegal immigrants in 1986. He said he appreciated President George W. Bush’s attempts that would have created a guest worker program.
“Cause they’re not up here to sit around. They’re being employed. They’re being helpful in the structure of the country. They’re doing work that some people don’t want to do,” he mused. “If we did what some people want, to deport them all, our country would collapse.”
But that argument is the loudest one being offered in the House. Two weeks ago, Republicans in the House voted to resume deportation of the children of illegal immigrants.
Congressman Young skipped that vote.