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Sanchez: Democrats may be open to talks on pathway to legalization

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) suggested Democrats may be open to agreeing to a path to legalization instead of a path to citizenship in an immigration reform deal.

"There's always room for debate. The problem is, as you've heard, it's their way or no way," Sanchez said Thursday on MSNBC, discussing Republican opposition in the House.

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Top Democrats have repeatedly said they cannot support an immigration bill that does not include a pathway to citizenship. But a number of House Republicans have been pushing for a path to legalization instead of a path to citizenship. The path to legalization allows the immigrants living in the country illegally to stay without fear of being deported. But those immigrants, depending on the construction of the immigration law, may never be able to become citizens. The pathway to citizenship would off immigrants a chance to one day become citizens, as long as they meet certain criteria.

On Tuesday, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), a member of the bipartisan group that produced immigration reform plan passed by the Senate, was asked if he would accept a path to legalization rather than citizenship. Schumer's response was an empathic "no."

"America has stood for citizenship, we have a Statue of Liberty here. It never has said, 'You come here and you'll be second class,'" Schumer said. "We will not stand for it. It will not happen."

In the same MSNBC interview, Sanchez was asked, again, whether Democrats were open to discussing a path to legalization.

"There's always room to talk, and we will continue to talk with them, but you know they really need to get off the horse and get going," Sanchez said.

On Wednesday, House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said that it was still premature to say a path to citizenship was the primary sticking point to an immigration reform agreement in the House. Hoyer said Republicans have not adequately clarified the specifics of a path to legalization.

"Well, I don't think we are there yet," Hoyer said. "There seem to be a lot of roadblocks that the Republicans have put up other than that, the fact that they say that that is an issue. I am not sure what they mean by the difference between legalization and citizenship. I mean, I know what technically it means, but I am not sure what they think the consequence of that means, what the substantive difference is between those two definitions."