Thursday’s conservative confab made a big effort to put Hispanic Republicans in the spotlight and stress the importance of immigration reform. But the conservatives on CPAC’s immigration panel Thursday morning also made one thing very clear: They don’t think a path to full citizenship for illegal immigrants was a necessary part of an immigration overhaul, and think that it could be a politically toxic issue that could doom the chances for a bill.

If an immigration overhaul includes a path to citizenship, “it will almost certainly fail” because of Republican opposition, said Dan Garza, executive director of the LIBRE Initiative, a Hispanic conservative advocacy group. “Getting citizenship — that may not be politically viable, and I think we need to be politically astute about this,” Garza said. And Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) made it clear that he opposed a path to citizenship on principle. ”It would be a travesty in my opinion to treat those who violated our laws to get here much better than those who have patiently waited their turn to come to the United States,” he concluded.

Instead, panelists converged around a path to “earned legal status” for illegal immigrants that would legalize their standing without giving them the full rights of U.S. citizens.

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