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Reid insists immigration reform must include path to citizenship

Majority leader lays out 2013 agenda, top priorities


Steve Marcus

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) looks out the window of his home in Searchlight, Nev. Thursday, January 17, 2013.

Fri, Jan 18, 2013 (2 a.m.)

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says he is hoping to build an immigration reform bill with bipartisan support but that some related issues are not up for debate in his view.

Meeting Thursday morning at his Searchlight home, Reid outlined his top priorities for the U.S. Senate in 2013, including immigration reform, to reporters who cover the Southern Nevada Hispanic community.

“There will be nothing done in my Senate (on immigration reform) without a pathway to citizenship,” he said.

Reid, sitting in his Western-themed home, which sits in the middle of wide-open desert not unlike the terrain around the southwestern U.S.-Mexico border, said it was time to turn the focus away from border security and toward other reform measures.

“We have spent a huge amount of money on border security, and both our northern and southern borders are more secure,” Reid said. “Frankly, Mexico is doing much better economically, and that has helped the issue a lot. We can’t build a fence of 3,000 miles because no matter how high we build it, they can build a ladder taller than that fence. So I think we have about expended our energy on border security.”

Reid said immigration reform was one of his top two issues for this session. Currently, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are working on a bipartisan set of principles to help frame the upcoming debate that they hope to unveil by the end of this month.

“People will have to move to the back of line. They would have to pay some penalties and fines, and they have to work, stay out of trouble and work on speaking English,” said Reid, offering general principles for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal residency. “That would bring people out of the shadows and really help everybody. It would be good for family reunification.”

Reid, who credits his 2010 re-election to Hispanic support, said he had no issue with E-Verify, the federal system for employers to check the immigration status of job applicants, but that it would have to be used much more widely to be effective.

“We have to make the employer sanctions not a Catch-22,” he said. “No one can do it right. If you are an employer, you have trouble, and if you are an employee, you have trouble. So these are some of the things we need to work on that are totally doable if there is a will. That’s why I hope McCain sticks with it, because it will be a great legacy for him.”

Reid lamented the loss of Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, both of whom are resigning, and said it was important to replace the loss of Hispanic leaders in the upper echelons of the federal government.

“I have never ever served with someone who I admire more (than Ken Salazar), and whom I feel more strongly about. … It’s a shame,” Reid said, adding he was offering recommendations for appointments to President Barack Obama.

Reid also touched on subjects that do not carry added weight in the Hispanic community, including Obama’s gun-control speech Wednesday morning.

Reid referred to a “room full of guns” in his house, saying he used to hunt but that he no longer could say what the guns are for. He said he was open to discussion about the types of firearms that are available and magazine capacity, but he also wanted to look into mental health issues and violence in media and video games.

Reid said he would be in favor of training to help teachers identify mental health problems, and he thought the regulations around forced psychiatric care had become too strict after being too lenient when he first started practicing law.

For those wanting to purchase guns, Reid said, “I think there can be general agreement that we can do a much more thorough and better job.”

Last year, 75,000 people lied about having a felony conviction on their record when they purchased a gun, Reid said, and just 7,000 of those people were referred to the U.S. Justice Department.

“That’s wrong,” he said. “That shows we can do a better job on things like that.”

Reid will return this weekend to Washington, D.C., and will attend the presidential inauguration on Monday.

A relief bill for victims of Hurricane Sandy that had already passed the House of Representatives is at the top of the pile for the Senate when it returns. Then the Senate will address nominations and its rules. Those issues could become contentious as Reid made it clear he planned procedural rule changes.

Reid repeatedly has criticized the overuse of the procedural filibuster, in which one or more senators stall legislation by registering an objection but without actually having to speak on the floor to delay action. Sixty votes are needed to overcome the procedural filibuster.

Reid said he would not attempt to reduce the votes needed to end the filibuster to a simple majority, but he said he would take action to streamline procedural rules that delay action. For example, Reid said he wanted to shorten the time allowed for debate after cloture, the filing to end debate, from 30 hours to just a few hours.

Such a change could draw the ire of Senate Republicans and their minority leader, Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell.

“I would hope that McConnell would realize I’m going to do it with or without him,” Reid said. “It would be nice if he would work with me to do something. At this stage, that has not come to be.”

After that, Reid said it would be time to tackle the tough debates over gun control and immigration reform.

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Discussion: 43 comments so far…

  1. Reid wants them to have citizenship for one reason and one reason only....so they will vote Democrat.

  2. @Noindex....so you admit that the Republican/Tea Party has absolutely nothing to offer Hispanic voters?

  3. Dream on. No shortcuts for illegal invaders. A recent survey shows 2/3 of Nevadans do NOT want any concessions for illegals. So who are the political advisers kidding? Softening campaigns to talk nice about illegals will NOT win votes. Just the reverse. You'll lose votes. Even O. recently quoted as saying "if the PEOPLE OF AMERICA want it..." and we do NOT want it.

    And for those who still think illegals do minimal harm: how about a proposed work-permit-path/VISA AFTER an illegal invader repays ER / healthcare costs, K-12 costs, back taxes, administrative costs and restitution for I.D. theft and SSN theft... and then pay a fine and then an application fee. Would also have to disclose names and addresses of coyotes, friends, relatives who have been aiding and abetting illegal immigration.

  4. GO home and get in line for LEGAL immigration. We already take a million a year--that's more than enough.

  5. Motorsports: free food from our food banks does not have Sales Tax. Stolen health care at ER's and UMC does NOT have sales tax. Crying for "donations" on Craig's List cause they have small children does NOT have sales tax. Bartering away EBT SNAP does not have sales tax. Seems they can eat well at other outlets so they don't need the EBT for food. Some of it must be St. Vincents and similar free meals.

  6. Making them "Legal Residents" wont cut it because they still would not be allowed to legally vote.

    Thats why the push for actual citizenship, plain and simple.

  7. IT'S A PLOY BY REID. He knows the Republicans won't go for citizenship so down the line he will "compromise" to get all illegals legalized instead. Remember these are lying politicians.

    It's still amnesty!

    E-mail your Congressman and 2 Senators and tell them NO to ANY legalization of illegal aliens! That's all you have to say.

    Here's how to find out who your reps are and their e-mail addresses: http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

  8. Y'all might as well get used to the idea that some form of legalization of status is headed your way. The GOP bidness community and the Party elders realize that without expanding the base beyond old white men and the tricorne hat crowd the Party will not win another presidential election. The only thing up for discussion is where to expand the base.....gays;not likely, blacks; White Citizen's Council is against that, young folk; dream on. Hispanics, fastest growing most socially conservative large group left. Suck it boys and meet your newest brown friends.

  9. NO AMNESTY!!!! If one is here in the USA ILLEGALLY, they are a criminal and should be treated as such.

    Are you here LEGALLY???
    That is the first question that should be asked berfore getting shelter or any American infrastructure services.
    If you are not, are you actively pursuing USA citizenship? Or have you actively started the path for legal residency? If the answer is "NO," then such individuals MUST be DEPORTED. The People, Citizens of the United States of America, can no longer turn a blind eye to ILLEGAL individuals here in this country. It is still a crime to be in a country without proper clearances and proper documentation. To help enforce immigration laws that are already on the books, put a bounty on reporting such people, so that there is no where to run or hide in the USA. To be in a country ILLEGALLY is criminal---in any country.

    The adverse impact of ILLEGAL immigrants in the USA has bankrupted our infrastructure, which is meant to service American Citizens. The US government has money put aside where our government aids and assists other countries and their peoples to help maintain peace.

    Senator Reid stated, ""People will have to move to the back of line. They would have to pay some penalties and fines, and they have to work, stay out of trouble and work on speaking English," said Reid, offering general principles for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants without legal residency. "That would bring people out of the shadows and really help everybody. It would be good for family reunification.""

    Just now people are getting information on the LOW test score results from illegal immigrant's children in our American and Nevadan public schools. For years, this situation has been swept under the rug, hidden from public view and debate, and now the problem has become such a crisis, that there is NO covering it up. It is awful, and education, as a result, is in CRISIS. Educators can corrolate low scores of students to those students having parents/home support that has little to no English language spoken, read, or listened to in the home environment.
    Part 1 of 2

    Blessings and Peace,

  10. Part 2 of 2 Continued
    One suggestion is to catch these folks when they are expecting a child, and have them commit to learning and mastering the English language (since English is the main language textbooks and instruction is delivered in English grades K through 12, and our country's infrastructure is in English). Sign them up when they go for "prenatal care" and when they go to "delivery" in medical care. That is a good starting place to send the message of accountability. While in waiting rooms, information about LEGAL entry to the USA, path to citizenship, and expectations in our American schools will further support this with televised infomercials and literature spreads.

    Also, ILLEGAL immigrants should be given the choice to either live in government sponsored internment camps until they achieve some LEGAL status, or be immediately deported. This is the most compassionate way to deal with such people, who are criminally here. It will keep families "unified" until they earn the proper status to be in this country. It is costing our nation MORE to NOT do this.

    Enforce proper immigrant's employment with E-Verify justifying their priveledge of being in this country and working!!! Our Lawmakers legislated it, use it.

    LEGAL American Citizens are weary of all the talk and NO action. We have the laws, enforce them! If there is a problem with streamlining the system, fix it.

    If you investigated many of the problems our country is having today (educational crisis and draining of infrastructure), it is because the USA had opened the floodgates in regards to UNregulated immigration decades ago, cheapening our standards and the quality and integrity of American production of goods. How can we be "Made in America proud," when the majority of products are being produced by illegal, cheap, labor? ILLEGALs should be ashamed, as well as Lawmakers who have dictated unrestricted immigration.

    Something to think about while talking about immigration reform and "true path to citizenship."

    Blessings and Peace,

  11. It's so easy for Senator Reid and all other FEDERAL politicians to favor things--and then DUMP THE COST on us at the local level. Lately their misrepresenting that favoring giveaways to illegals increases electability. Say what? 2 out of 3 AMERICANS favor getting rid of illegals--ENFORCE EMPLOYMENT RESTRICTIONS, fine employers of illegals, and the problem will be half solved. The other half would mean AG Holder gets off dead center and ENFORCES our immigration laws, secures our borders and DEPORTS. Again, we can EXPEL those who can't show they entered legally--saving deportation expenses of hearings, time waiting, holding and feeding those pending deportation.

  12. CCSD told the Governor that there are more than 50,000 English Language Learners--how many are NOT Spanish speaking? And some illegals have been here long enough that they speak English as well as they speak anything else.

    HEY the feds want LOCAL LAW enforcement to confiscate guns, do background checks....but the feds don't allow LOCAL LAW to ASSIST WITH REMOVAL OF ILLEGALs. And, it's improper and illegal for them to be here. SCOTUS has referred to protecting Americans from "those who have no business being in this country." But, it is still legal to own a gun.

  13. Star 7:29: Finally someone comprehends the cost of "opening the floodgates" a few decades ago when the American people agreed to assimilate the illegals here then ON THE CONDITION that the borders be secured. The borders remain porous and they keep coming here. ANY form of acceptance means they will keep coming and bringing every last cousin with them. Our economy can't regain a footing until this issue is resolved and we increase expulsion and deportation in a very serious effort to refuse to accept illegals in our economy, culture, society.

  14. I'm sorry I've tried to understand Harry Reid with not much success. He really believes that the people of Nevada don't know what they are doing even though they sent him to DC to represent them and their wishes.
    He really believes it about him.

    He is just too far left for me in his idea of the new world order.....