Reid: ‘I will do everything’ to get immigration reform done

The Senate Judiciary Committee will begin to mark up The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act next week.

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The bipartisan group of eight senators, known as the Gang of Eight, introduced S. 744, which would create a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the country, toughen border security, create a guest worker program and boost high-skilled immigration.

Reid has said he wants to get the bill to the Senate floor for a vote by June. He spoke Wednesday to the March for Citizenship in Las Vegas, where he told the story of Blanca Gamez, an immigrant whose parents illegally brought her to the United States — also known as a DREAMer — when she was just seven months old.

“Washington owes Blanca permanent solutions — solutions that are tough but fair,” Reid said. “Solutions that fix our broken legal immigration system. Solutions that punish unscrupulous employers who exploit immigrants and drag down wages for every worker in America. Solutions that pull 11 million people out of the shadows, help them get right with the law and learn English. Solutions that put them on the path to citizenship.”

Some Republicans have complained that the legislation is being rushed through and that it would provide amnesty for illegal residents before strengthening border enforcement.

The House is expected to take on immigration reform as well, but leaders on that side have said they will pass smaller reforms one-by-one rather than a comprehensive bill. Members of the Gang of Eight have suggested that the only way to pass any immigration reform is through a large-scale, comprehensive bill.

“We can’t do this piecemeal,” Reid said. “And we can’t do it without a pathway to earned citizenship.”

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Michael Bennet (D-Co.) comprise the Gang of Eight.

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