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House Democrats unveil immigration reform proposal

SHFWire photo by Andrés Rodríguez
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., says Wednesday the time for immigration reform is now. Pelosi, along with a group of Democratic members of Congress, including Steny H. Hoyer, D-Md., left, unveiled their immigration reform bill at a news conference.

WASHINGTON – Democratic House members unveiled a new immigration reform bill Wednesday and called on Republicans to act now on comprehensive reform.

“The time is now to pass comprehensive immigration reform,” Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., said. “We know that today the votes exist in the House of Representatives to complement, to match our Senate colleagues and pass a bill that does exactly that – fixes our broken immigration system, including providing a path to legal residency and ultimately to citizenship.”

Democrats said the proposal, H.R. 15, is a compromise bill that includes the bipartisan bill passed by the Senate in June backed by the so-called Gang of Eight, and the Border Security Results Act, a bipartisan House measure.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said the bill combines the best of the Senate bill minus the Hoeven-Corker border security amendment, which would add 40,000 border patrol personnel and require 700 miles of border fencing.

“Every piece of this legislation has had bipartisan support and that was important to us,” Pelosi, the House minority leader, said.

Garcia said that they aren’t introducing the perfect immigration reform package.

“We are introducing a comprehensive reform bill that provides that space for compromise,” he said.

Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, has said he will not allow a vote by the full House if a majority of Republicans oppose it. Still, Democrats hope to get the bill to the floor.

“What we chose to do is show that we want to get this done now and so we’re putting together a bill that works,” Becerra, chairman of the House Democratic Caucus, said. “That has worked in the Senate, getting bipartisan votes, and that has worked in the House getting bipartisan votes.”

Becerra was the only member of the Gang of Eight present at the conference. He said he remains hopeful about the stalled Senate bill.

“It could become the vehicle in the House to get this done,” he said. “There’s still great anticipation and hope.”

Becerra said that the Democratic caucus is working toward passing a continuing resolution to stop to federal government shutdown, but said that immigration reform would help the U.S. economy.

“We believe it actually is a wonderful element in resolving this budget and fiscal fight that we have,” he said.

The bill would reduce the federal budget deficit by $135 billion over the first decade and about $1 trillion over the following decade, he said.

The bill is cosponsored by Democratic Reps. Judy Chu, Calif.; Joe Garcia, Fla.; Suzan DelBene, Wash.; Jared Polis, Colo., and Steven Horsford, Nev. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus and theNew Democrat Coalition also helped to create the proposal.

The announcement comes at a time when groups around the country are organizing protests to pressure Congress to pass immigration reform. Saturday is the National Day of Action with rallies and vigils scheduled throughout the country, and a rally at the National Mall on Tuesday.

Andrés Rodríguez is a UTEP senior double major in Spanish and English and American literature. He is currently participating in the Scripps Howard Foundation Semester in Washington program. He may be reached at [email protected].

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House Democrats unveil immigration reform proposal