Moderate House Democrats offer their own immigration plan

By Colette Luke -- Medill News Service  |  April 12, 2013 at 12:36 PM
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WASHINGTON, April 12 -- A group of moderate House members known as the New Democrat Coalition argues that comprehensive immigration reform would create more jobs and make the country more competitive in the global market.

“Our history has shown that immigrants and their children start businesses and create hundreds of thousands of jobs that make America great,” said Democratic Rep. Joe Garcia of Florida in announcing the plan at a Capitol Hill news conference on Thursday.

A bipartisan group of eight senators is likely to unveil its plan for immigration reform next week.

That plan is widely expected to be the starting point as both chambers of Congress hammer out a bill that would address the needs of the estimated 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally while also allowing new immigrants to gain permanent residency.

The coalition’s plan, while calling for more work visas to help spur entrepreneurship in the global economy, advocates strongly for the resources needed to secure U.S borders in a way that provides for a fluid exchange of trade.

“While we are committed to having real enforcement as part of immigration reform, we want to make sure the undue burdens don’t hammer economic growth, but in fact enhance [it],” said Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo. This is the first time the coalition, which started in 1997 and is composed of 50 House members, is taking a stand on immigration as a caucus.

The coalition has seven task forces that focus on issues such as immigration, education, national security and energy. In addition to Garcia and Polis, the other chair of the immigration task force is Rep. Joaquin Castro, D-Texas.

“We’re excited about the immigration debate that is taking place right now in Washington and are glad to be a part of the discussion,” Castro said.

The coalition’s plan, aimed at influencing the final legislation, makes the case that border protection will become less of an issue as more immigrants are granted citizenship.

“I think once everyone becomes legalized here, we won’t have the great need of border enforcement that people think they need right now,” said Rep. Juan Vargas, D-Calif.

(Video By Brina Monterroza, Medill News Service)
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