On Tuesday, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) said children of illegal immigrants who were brought to America by their parents should get opportunities to get legal residence and citizenship.
"It is time to provide an opportunity for legal residence and citizenship for those who were brought to this country as children and who know no other home," Cantor said. "I’m pleased that many of my colleagues in both chambers of Congress on both sides of the aisle have begun work in good faith to address these issues."
At a major speech at the American Enterprise Institute that detailed Republican policy proposals to "make life better" for Americans, Cantor called on his colleagues in both chambers of Congress on both sides of the aisle to address this issue and urged President Barack Obama to lead on a bipartisan immigration bill. Cantor said one of the "founding principles of our country was that children would not be punished for the mistakes of their parents."
This is a reversal for Cantor, who voted against the DREAM Act in 2010.
"There are some who would rather avoid fixing the problem in order to save this as a political issue," Cantor said. "I reject this notion and call on the President to help lead us towards a bipartisan solution rather than encourage the common political divisions of the past."
Cantor said "there are more than 11 million people here illegally, many of whom have become part of the fabric of our country," and "they, like us, have families and dreams."
"While we are a nation that allows anyone to start anew, we are also a nation of laws, and that’s what makes tackling the issue of immigration reform so difficult," Cantor said. "In looking to solve this problem soon, we've got to balance the respect for the rule of law and respect for those waiting to enter this country legally, with care for the people and families, most of whom just want to make a better life, and contribute to America."
Cantor also called on Congress to pass the STEM Act, which would give foreign students who have advanced degrees in field such as science, technology, engineering, and math from American universities permanent residency.
He said discussions about immigration reform have made "border security, employment verification and creating a workable guest worker program immediate priorities."
"It’s the right thing to do for our families, for our security, and for our economy," Cantor said.
Cantor said his "grandparents fled the vicious anti-Semitic pogroms of the czars of Russia to come to America." He said his grandmother, who was "widowed at a young age," raised "her two sons in a tiny apartment atop a grocery store she and my grandfather had opened."
"With little but her faith, thrift and hope for a better tomorrow, my grandma worked seven days a week to ensure that my dad and uncle could realize the promise of this great country," Cantor said. "And today, my children and I stand as proof of the possibility to what may have seemed to her then like an impossible dream."