Cantor: Making Citizens of Young Illegals the Decent Thing to Do

Elizabeth Harrington | July 17, 2013 | 11:23am EDT
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House Majority Leader Eric Cantor and House Speaker John Boehner (AP File Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

( – Granting citizenship to illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as minors is the “compassionate” thing to do, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said on Wednesday.

“[T]he history of our country is one that moved away from holding kids liable for the deeds, misdeeds, commitment of crime by parents,” Cantor said, during a GOP press conference on Capitol Hill.  “And these, in many instances, are kids without a country if we don’t allow them to become full citizens of our country.”

“It is not only an issue of fairness, as the Speaker said, it’s an issue of decency, of compassion,” he said. “Where else would these kids go?”

Cantor continued: “Again, if they’ve been brought here as a minor, in many instances having no idea what was going on, knowing no other place than America as home, it is something I think that both sides of the aisle could say that is something that we support.

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“And in all of the things that confront us here in Washington, if we can look to the things that bring us together and unite us—not those things that divide us—we could actually begin to get some things done for the American people,” he said.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) called it an issue of “basic fairness.” 

“These children were brought here of no accord of their own, and frankly they’re in a very difficult position, and I think many of our members believe that this issue needs to be addressed.”

Cantor, along with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), is currently working on a bill that contains elements of the Democrats’ DREAM Act.  Goodlatte said the bill would grant legal status to illegal aliens brought to the country as minors.

“These children came here through no fault of their own, and many of them know no other home than the United States,” he said.

The DREAM Act, which was passed by the Democrat-led House in late 2010 but failed in the Senate, would have conferred legal residency on those brought to the country before age 16; and granted full citizenship to those who attend college or serve in the military.

In 2012, President Barack Obama went around Congress, imposing the DREAM Act administratively, by directing his Department of Homeland Security not to deport illegal immigrants brought to the country before age 16; and not to deport illegal aliens who do not pose a threat to national security or public safety.

So far, Obama’s “deferred action” program reportedly has allowed 291,859 illegal immigrants to remain in the country.

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