WASHINGTON, July 12 (UPI) -- House Republicans are crafting a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for children brought to the United States illegally by their parents, aides said.
The House proposal resembles the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act) that is part of a sweeping Senate immigration reform bill, but won't be as broad, The Hill reported Thursday.
The bill is being developed by two Virginia representatives, Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
A Cantor spokeswoman said the bill is in the "early stages" of development.
It would be the first House GOP proposal that would address the status of illegal immigrants, The Hill said.
The DREAM Act portion of the Senate bill would provide an expedited path to citizenship for people brought into the United States illegally as children and who have attended college or served in the military, but the House GOP proposal likely would be limited to younger people.
"As part of the step-by-step approach the House is taking to address immigration reform, leader Cantor and I are working on a bill to provide a legal status to those who were brought illegally to the U.S. as children by their parents," Goodlatte said in a statement Thursday.
"These children came here through no fault of their own and many of them know no other home than the United States," he said. "This is one component of immigration reform -- any successful reform plan must improve our legal immigration programs, strengthen border security and the interior enforcement of our immigration laws, and find a way to fairly deal with those who are currently in the country unlawfully."
Aides told The Hill there was no timetable for when the proposal would get a committee hearing or vote.
The Judiciary Committee already approved immigration bills dealing with enforcement, an E-Verify system for employers, high-skilled visas and an agricultural guest-worker program.
Democrats said the move was welcome news from Republicans, who have voted against the Democrats' DREAM Act for several years.
"You've got to deal with all aspects of the broken immigration system," said Rep. Xavier Becerra of California, the House Democratic Caucus chairman who is working on a bipartisan comprehensive bill. "You can help the kids, but if you leave the parents behind, you still have a very broken system."
Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said the House would take an incremental approach to immigration reform, rather than consider a comprehensive bill as the Senate did.
"The speaker has to determine how he can try to move things forward," Becerra said. "I will simply say that we know what it takes to fix the broken immigration system. Pieces don't fix the machine. You've got to fix the machine. You know, man up, do it right, get it done."