Hispanic Caucus lists immigration reforms

Nov. 29, 2012 at 11:53 AM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- The Congressional Hispanic Caucus released a nine-point list of principles it says must be included in any overhaul of U.S. immigration laws.

Members of the caucus -- which increases its ranks from 20 lawmakers in the current congressional session to 26 when the next Congress convenes in January -- said they're encouraged the White House and the leaders of the House and Senate have called for action on immigration, even though no specific legislation has developed, Roll Call reported Wednesday.

The caucus' top demand is that all of estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants be given the chance to earn "a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship," a position that conflicts with conservative Republican lawmakers, who have called similar proposals "amnesty."

Another principle said those brought to the United States illegally as children should be given a path to citizenship, an extension of a executive order President Obama signed.

"If the Republican Party wants to be a national party, it must understand that, on this issue, it must work with us to achieve what is good for the country and good for the immigrant community," Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., said.

The list includes points the GOP might support, Roll Call said, such as requiring immigrant workers to pay their "fair share" of taxes and strengthening security along U.S. borders.

The caucus also recommended a "workable employment-verification system that prevents unlawful employment and rewards employers and employees who play by the rules."

Under the caucus' principles, Menendez said, undocumented immigrants earning legal residency must meet several conditions, such as government registration, fingerprinting, undergoing a criminal background check and learning English.

"We have never required English-language ability for permanent residency," Menendez said. "We have required that for U.S. citizenship but not for permanent residency, so it is a higher bar."

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