Appearing on Fox News Thursday morning, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) said that he thinks House Republicans should insist that the border actually be secured before they even consider discussing anything to do with “legal status” or citizenship for illegal aliens in America.
“In order to reform our immigration code, and I agree that we need to reform it, we need to undertake this in a step-by-step fashion, and the very first thing we need to do is secure the border,” Lee said when asked for his reaction to the drama unfolding at the House GOP conference retreat. “And we also need to reform our antiquated, outdated visa system – our legal immigration processes.”
“Once those things are done, once those things are in place and have been verified, then we’ll be in a better place to figure out how to treat the eleven million people who are here illegally with dignity and respect for the rule of law,” he explained. “But these things can’t be wrapped together all at once. We need to undertake those first two steps first and complete them before we move on to the third.”
Lee’s point is that House Republicans should not pass a group of bills all at once dealing with all the parts of a comprehensive immigration reform solution, then label such a legislative package as “piecemeal” or “step-by-step.” Instead, Lee argues that real step-by-step or piecemeal immigration reform is when the House moves to secure the border and forces the Democrat-controlled Senate and President Barack Obama’s administration to pass and implement actual border security and interior enforcement measures.
Lee and Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) laid that case out in a joint op-ed for Breitbart News last fall.
What House GOP leadership is doing runs counter to that plan. According to the Wall Street Journal, they intend to introduce a plan that has all the “major planks” of the Senate’s 2013 “Gang of Eight” bill. Even though they will likely split it into a series of bills, leadership is expected to try to pass them all at the same time, meaning they will be implemented together – leaving open the almost certain likelihood that the Obama administration ignores the border security and interior enforcement parts of reform.