Eric Cantor, Top GOP Jew, Changes Tune on Immigration

In Switch, Backs Citizenship for Children of Illegal Aliens

getty images

By Reuters

Published February 10, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share

A top U.S. Republican lawmaker said on Sunday he would support granting citizenship to children who are in the country illegally in a sign that conservatives who oppose immigration amnesty will be playing defense as Congress takes on immigration reform in the coming months.

Representative Eric Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House of Representatives, said Congress could make quick progress on immigration if lawmakers agreed to give citizenship to children - an idea he opposed when it came up for a vote in 2010 as the DREAM Act.

“The best place to begin, I think, is with the children. Let’s go ahead and get that under our belt, put a win on the board,” Cantor said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Cantor is leading an effort to improve his party’s image as many Republicans worry they will be consigned to irrelevancy in coming years if they do not reach out to the fast-growing Latino electorate, which strongly supports immigration reform.

President Barack Obama has made immigration reform a top priority of his second term in office and a bipartisan group of senators is working to draft legislation that would tackle the issue in a comprehensive manner, rather than the piecemeal approach that Cantor suggested.

Republican Senator John McCain, who is involved in that effort, said his group aims to provide a path to citizenship for all of those who are in the United States illegally, not just children, as long as border security is tightened.

“There are 11 million people living in the shadows. I believe that they deserve to come out of the shadows,” McCain said on “Fox News Sunday.”

That could be a tough sell for many of Cantor’s Republicans in the House, who say it would amount to amnesty for those who willingly broke the law.

“We want to make sure we’re compassionate and sensitive to their plight - these kids know no other place as home. On the other hand, we are a country of laws,” Cantor said.

Cantor declined to say whether he would support a pathway to citizenship for adults as well. He could be forced to take a stand one way or the other if McCain and his colleagues manage to pass their legislation out of the Senate.

Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said Cantor’s support for citizenship for children was a positive sign. But he said his colleagues in the Senate would be pushing for more.

“I’ve met these young people, and they will tell you, yes, I want a future, but what about my mom and dad?” Durbin said on “Meet the Press.” “We’re not stopping with the DREAM act, we’re beginning with the DREAM act and pushing forward.”


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.