President Obama is reiterating his "commitment to comprehensive immigration reform," and hopes to overhaul the system during his time in office.
But Congressman Dan Lungren, a California Republican and member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, says he sees red flags in that statement.
"The word ‘comprehensive' has become a code word for amnesty," said Lungren during a Saturday interview on Fox News.
Tennessee Democrat Steve Cohen joined the debate with his own twist on the dictionary, telling Fox News, "amnesty is code for not getting things done."
Cohen says one example of inaction is the DREAM Act, formally known as the Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act. The DREAM Act provides a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants through college attendance or military service. The measure passed in the House but failed in the Senate on a procedural vote in the 111th Congress.
Cohen blames Senate Republicans, saying they "killed the DREAM Act."
President Obama discussed his support for the DREAM Act at a California town hall this week, arguing, "the kids [of illegal immigrants] didn't do anything. They were just doing what kids do, which is follow their parents. They've grown up as Americans."
The president added, "immigration in this country has always been complicated."
Cohen says issues like border enforcement need improvement, but argues that "the agricultural industry cannot survive without the immigrant workers that it has. It's so valuable in California and it's a large part of our economy."
Lungren countered that illegal immigration is having another effect on the state he represents: crime.
"We are spending something around 1.2 billion dollars a year for illegal aliens who commit crimes and incarcerated in the state of California," said Lungren, quoting a report requested by California Democrat Zoe Lofgren. "It is evidence that the federal government has not stepped up to the plate and done its job."