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Immigration issues polarizing

May 27, 2007 at 8:17 PM

WASHINGTON, May 27 (UPI) -- Two leading Hispanic U.S. officials agreed Sunday the immigration system is broken, but expressed partisan differences on the best way to fix it.

Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, a Republican, and Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., appeared on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos. Gutierrez said a compromise immigration reform bill now in Congress "goes a long way toward uniting families" by reducing the backlog of applicants for green cards -- but Menendez said the bill "undermines the very core of family reunification" by taking away a U.S. citizen's right to claim immediate family.

"Why should a United States citizen have less than a right who obeyed the law, followed the rules, than someone who came in undocumented?" Menendez asked.

Menendez said he also doesn't like the legislation's point-system provision because it's tilted against families in favor of education and other skills. But Gutierrez said Americans think that's the way to go.

Menendez said he is concerned the bill would create a permanent underclass "and actually exacerbates the very essence of what we're trying to resolve."

Gutierrez said the economy needs low-skilled labor.

"There are jobs that happen to be low-skilled jobs and we do not have enough Americans to fill those jobs," he said.

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