Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Politicians Welcome Progress on Immigration

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Politicians Welcome Progress on Immigration

Article excerpt

ST. LOUIS As President Barack Obama and Congress began hashing out immigration reform Tuesday, Missouri political leaders in both parties expressed similar priorities on the subject: Secure the borders first, and only then talk about paths to citizenship.

Our immigration system is broken, Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., said in a statement that appeared to take a significantly tougher stand on the topic than Obama.

Others expressed relief that, after years of abdicating the issue to the states, Washington finally appears poised to deal with it.

States have been frustrated waiting for the federal government to take this up, said Missouri state Sen. John Lamping, R-Ladue. This is a federal problem, and its good that federal policymakers are talking about it.

Immigrant advocates agreed. Its very encouraging that theyre talking about this seriously, after all that horrible rhetoric during the 2012 presidential campaign, said Juan Montana, a St. Louis documented immigrant from Colombia.

Declaring now is the time to fix broken immigration laws, Obama on Tuesday urged Congress to put Americas 11 million illegal immigrants on a clear path to U.S. citizenship, while cracking down on businesses that employ people illegally and tightening security at the borders.

His call, in a speech in Las Vegas, came a day after a bipartisan group of U.S. senators put forth a similar set of immigration reform principles.

The question of whether to tie citizenship to security and enforcement issues, or approach them separately, is shaping up as a potential sticking point between Obama and congressional Republicans. But in Missouri with its generally conservative politics and small but growing immigrant population there appears to be bipartisan agreement on that question.

We must address three critical issues (on immigration): securing our borders, fulfilling our legitimate workforce needs, and determining how we deal with people who overstay, Sen. Roy Blunt, R- Mo., said in a written statement shortly after Obamas speech.

Dealing with the second two challenges is much easier if weve confronted the first concern of securing borders, Blunt said.

McCaskill set similar parameters for the issue. …

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