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Rep. Eric Cantor Sees “Real Potential” for Immigration Reform But Obamacare Poses a Challenge

Daily Ticker

An estimated 11 million immigrants are living illegally in the U.S. That could change if Congress approves immigration reform, now making its way on the Hill.

The Senate has a bill developed by a bipartisan group of eight including Republican John McCain of Arizona and Democrat Michael Bennett of Colorado that would put undocumented immigrants on a 13-year path to U.S. citizenship.

The House favors a series of smaller bills rather than one big one and has proposals for a guestworker program in agriculture and for online verification (E-verify) of an immigrant’s status for employers.

Related: Immigration Reform Could Cost Social Security Billions

“By taking a fine-tooth comb through each of the individual issues within the larger immigration debate, it will help us get a better bill that will benefit Americans and provide a workable immigration system, Congressman Bob Goodlatte ( R-VA), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, wrote in a letter to the Washington Post.

At the 2013 Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor tells The Daily Ticker’s Lauren Lyster that he’s hopeful Congress will pass immigration reform this year. “There’s a real potential to get something done," he says.

Cantor is especially passionate about providing access to citizenship to the children of undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the U.S. by their parents. “Now America is the only place they know as home. Surely we can find it in ourselves to make sure that they have access to citizenship in this country,” says Cantor.

Related: Los Angeles Mayor: Benefits of Immigration Reform Outweigh Costs

Immigration reform is also expected to be a topic of discussion during President Obama’s trip to Mexico this week where he will meet with Mexico’s new president, Enrique Pena Nieto. Among the issues they might discuss are concerns about how immigration reform will affect U.S.-Mexico border security.

The Senate bill mandates that there be no path to legal status for undocumented immigrants until the U.S. determines that the border with Mexico is secure.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) says many Republicans are suspicious that about the ability of the U.S. to secure that border, and he doubts the Republican-controlled House will approve the Senate bill, as is.

Cantor says Obamacare is one of the “real challenges” to immigration reform. “If the illegal population that is here...gains legal status under any kind of a (immigration) bill, what does that mean for their eligibility for Obamacare?” asks Cantor. “That’s a huge cost.”

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