WASHINGTON -- House Republicans took a tentative step Tuesday toward offering citizenship to some unauthorized immigrants, but hit an immediate wall of resistance from the White House on down as Democrats said it wasn't enough.
The dismissive reaction to the GOP proposal to offer eventual citizenship to some immigrants brought illegally to the United States as children underscored the difficulties of finding any compromise in the Republican-led House on the politically explosive issue of immigration.
That left prospects cloudy for one of President Barack Obama's top second-term priorities. Congress is preparing to break for a monthlong summer recess at the end of next week without action in the full House on any immigration legislation, even after the Senate passed a sweeping bipartisan bill last month to secure the borders and create a path to citizenship for the 11 million immigrants in the country illegally.
At a hearing of the House Judiciary immigration subcommittee yesterday on how to deal with immigrants brought here illegally as children, Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) suggested that "we as a nation should allow this group of young people to stay in the U.S. legally." House Republican leaders have embraced offering citizenship to such immigrants, and Goodlatte is working on a bill with Majority Leader Eric Cantor toward the goal.
It is something of a turnaround for Republicans, many of whom in the past have opposed legalizing immigrants brought here as kids. And some Democrats and immigration advocates said it was a welcome development.
Yet, even before the hearing began, Democrats dismissed Goodlatte and Cantor's not-yet-released legislation, saying any solution that doesn't offer citizenship to all 11 million immigrants here illegally falls short.
Over Twitter, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer slammed "the cruel hypocrisy of the GOP immigration plan: Allow some kids to stay but deport their parents."
That got a counterattack from Cantor spokesman Rory Cooper. "If White House opposes effort to give children path to staying in only country they know, how serious are they about immigration reform?" he responded over Twitter.