On January 30, 2014, House Speaker John A. Boehner (Ohio) announced at a GOP retreat in Maryland the House Republicans’ six standards for immigration reform. The message in the preamble made clear that House Republicans would not support comprehensive immigration reform but favored a step-by-step approach which would begin with increased border security. Although the standards do not lay out exact steps to achieve the reform, they address the following areas:
- Border Security and Interior Enforcement- This would include a zero tolerance policy for individuals who cross the border illegally or overstay their visa. In addition, it would ensure that the President could not unilaterally stop immigration enforcement.
- Entry-Exit Visa Tracking System- Implementation of a system (including technology to verify identity and prevent fraud) to identify and track down visitors who abuse the law.
- Employment Verification and Workplace Enforcement – Implementation of an electronic employment verification system.
- Reform to the Legal Immigration System- Reform to the legal immigration system which would include visa and green card allocations that reflect the needs of employers and the overall goal to grow the U.S. economy. This would include realistic, enforceable, usable, and legal paths for entry into the U.S. with the overall goal to meet the economic needs of the United States without displacing or disadvantaging American workers.
- Youth- A path to legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to the country as children through no fault of their own and who know no other place as home. The plan would be to set certain eligibility standards which include serving in the military or attaining a college degree.
- Individuals Living Outside the Rule of Law- The standards confirm that there would be no special path to citizenship for individuals living and working in the United States without status, however, there would be a pathway where these individuals could live legally in the U.S. if they, willing 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). The standards make clear that this would not be implemented until specific immigration enforcement requirements are met. In addition, aliens with criminal convictions, gang members, sex offenders and those who do not meet the above requirements will not be eligible for the program.