Hispanic Congressional Members Discuss Immigration Reform

For the first time since 1993, Hispanic congressional members of both parties came together to meet with the President. The goal was to find common ground on immigration reform. Jodi Breisler reports from Washington.

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The President and Hispanic Congressional Delegation met to talk about their legislative strategy to pass comprehensive immigration reform. The President's previous attempts in the Republican-led Congress have failed. But with the Democratic majority, immigration reform supporters say it has a better chance of passing. South Texas Democrat Henry Cuellar says there was agreement on three primary goals.

"Strong border security in the bill, a guest worker plan and number three- we've got to do something about the 12 million undocumented aliens that we have here."

Cuellar says the Congress members and President talked about getting 60 to 75 Republicans to vote for immigration reform.

"He committed himself to do everything possible to get some of those Republicans over to make it a bi-partisan bill."

San Antonio Congressman Charlie Gonzales was a little less optimistic.

"I don't think it's a simple equation of the President calling members of the Republican Party and saying 'I really need you on this'. And the reason for that is they already have a previous vote on record opposing the very thing we're trying to pass now."

Gonzales says the business community has not been included in the discussion. He says they need to be involved to convince more Republicans to vote for immigration reform.

"It's going to take a different argument. And the argument has to be fact-based. And that fact is that the businesses in the United States of America rely heavily on the migrant worker and we have to acknowledge that."

The 22 Congress Members and the President met on a week where over 30 conservative talk-radio hosts from across the country and their supporters rallied at the capitol. They oppose any immigration legislation except tighter border security. The Senate will likely introduce the immigration reform in Mid-May. Before then Cuellar says he hopes to get increased funding for sheriffs along the southwest border.

For Houston Public Radio, I'm Jodi Breisler in Washington.

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