“Are they trying to create space for a Republican version of legalization with a citizenship option for some but not all? Or are they trying to pretend that they want a solution as they gear up to get to ‘no’?” said Frank Sharry, the executive director of the pro-reform group America’s Voice. “I genuinely don’t know.”

Goodlatte has said on multiple occasions that he does not support a “special” pathway to citizenship, meaning that he opposes a new legal category created especially for immigrants who came to the United States illegally. The Senate Gang of Eight bill includes a 13-year pathway to citizenship for such immigrants, but they would essentially have to go to the back of the line of those who are waiting to obtain green cards before they, themselves, could become permanent residents.

In a C-SPAN interview earlier this month, Goodlatte said he and other House Republicans were “open-minded” to a path to legalization. After obtaining that status, those immigrants could then apply for green cards, and ultimately citizenship, through methods already available to other immigrants.

“All of those are ways that they could then eventually find themselves permanent residents and ultimately citizens, but none of those would be special ways that have been made available only to people who are here illegally because that’s the Senate’s approach,” Goodlatte said in the interview. “We don’t agree with that approach.”