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On eve of House immigration debate, Rep. Pittenger says no to citizenship path

Rubio vs. Pittenger
T. Ortega Gaines - ogaines@charlotteobserver.com
Robert Pittenger

With U.S. House Republicans poised to debate their strategy on an immigration overhaul this week, one Charlotte Republican said he can’t support any plan that calls for a path to citizenship for those here illegally.

Rep. Robert Pittenger of Charlotte said Monday he won’t support the kind of comprehensive immigration changes approved last month by the Senate.

“ ‘Comprehensive’ is a nice word for ‘pathway to citizenship,’ and we don’t buy that,” Pittenger told the Observer. “What we do understand is we have 11 1/2 million people here (illegally) and the system is broken.”

The Senate passed a bi-partisan immigration measure that not only provides a way to citizenship for those here illegally but beefs up border security.

House Republicans are expected to begin mapping out their own immigration strategy on Wednesday.

Like many House Republicans, Pittenger opposes a pathway to citizenship. Instead he favors a program that would require people here illegally to provide fingerprints and DNA samples in exchange for work permits.

Another area of dispute with the Senate plan is border security.

The Senate bill would add 20,000 more border agents and complete a 700-mile border fence.

GOP House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio has called the Senate’s security mandates “laughable.”

Pittenger – whose 9th District includes portions of Iredell, Mecklenburg and Union counties – said they don’t go far enough.

He said border states, not just the federal government, should help determine whether their borders are secure.

“It’s a matter of who decides,” he said. “If you were to call (Homeland Security Secretary Janet) Napolitano today, she’d say the border is secure. I don’t buy that.”

Morrill: 704-358-5059
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