Perry...says some immigrants should face fines and penalties.
Perry...says some immigrants should face fines and penalties. (perry.house.gov)

U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, is among the lawmakers opposed to a bipartisan immigration bill calling for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.

The bill passed the Senate last week, moving it to a Republican-led House whose leadership has already pronounced it dead.

Perry said last week he was still digesting the more than 1,000 pages in the document, but his priorities for immigration reform are different from those outlined in the Senate, and he won't vote for that version of the bill.

While he's in favor of a path to citizenship for some immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally, Perry said there should be some discerning factors to determine who should pay fines for violating the law and who should be given a legal status or "potential citizenship."

There are two classes of illegal immigrants, he said.

Those who knowingly violated the law by overstaying a visa or entering illegally should pay fines and face penalties, he said.

"For those who came with their parents, as a child you have no choice," he said. "You're essentially American. I would want legal status or

potential citizenship for them."

The question is at what age to draw the line, he said. A small child brought to the U.S. illegally should be viewed differently than someone who was "17-and-a-half" when he or she came with parents, Perry said.

Priorities: The Senate bill calls for helping about 8 million illegal immigrants transition into citizenship, improving border security, and increasing the number of work visas issued. But Perry said the bill stops short of the reform needed.

"Securing the border is number one," he said. "We need to know who's coming in and who's leaving this country and for what purpose."

He said the visa programs and worker programs are "inefficient and completely broken," and he would like to see creation of a three-year guest worker program.

Perry said he has spoken with employers who hire the same employees several years in a row, but the workers must apply to come to the U.S. every year.

"The employer and the employee have no idea if they'll even be allowed to come from year to year," he said.

The process could be streamlined to make it easier on workers, not all of whom want to permanently live in the U.S., and those who hire them, he said.

The House hasn't provided a timeline for when it will take up debate on the bill.

In the Senate, Sen. Robert Casey Jr., D-Pa., voted in favor of the measure while Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., voted against it.

-- Reach Christina Kauffman at ckauffman@yorkdispatch.com.