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Posted at 04:15 PM ET, 06/18/2012

Harry Reid: Immigration reform should be ‘tough, fair and practical’


Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.). (Mark Wilson - Getty Images)

Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) once again praised President Obama’s decision to stop deporting some illegal immigrants who were brought to the country as children, saying Monday that Congress needs to make the move permanent.

In his first verbal remarks on the issue since Obama made the policy change Friday, Reid repeated what he has said before: that any comprehensive immigration reform “should be tough, fair and practical” and should revolve around four key components.

First, Reid said the forms should include plans to bolster border security; plans to “hold unscrupulous employers accountable”; changes to the nation’s legal immigration policy; and a way to require the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants to pay back taxes, fines, learn English and “get in the back of the line.”

Reid didn’t elaborate on any of the four components during brief comments on the Senate floor, but once again criticized Republicans for blocking attempts to pass long-term immigration reform.

“Many Republicans who once said they favor a long-term fix for America’s broken immigration system are now abandoning efforts to find common ground,” he said. “The president has taken decisive action in offering this directive. But he can only do so much by himself.”

“I hope my Republican colleagues will finally join Democrats to find a bipartisan way to mend this nation’s flawed immigration system — instead of just complaining that the system is broken,” Reid added.

But there is currently no serious plan under consideration in the Senate to tackle the reforms both Obama and Reid have called for, with observers not expecting serious legislative attempts to begin again until well after the November elections and the anticipated months-long debate over the nation’s fiscal and tax concerns.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another closely-watched leader on the immigration issue, also weighed in again Monday, telling National Review Online that there’s a “growing consensus” in favor of not deporting people who came to the United States illegally as children — and that “it feels weird” to deport those people.

“There is a growing sentiment in America about these kids,” Rubio told NRO. “If you were four years old when your parents brought you here illegally, and you have grown up here your whole life and don’t even speak Spanish, and you are your high school’s valedictorian, you have a lot to contribute to our future. It kind of feels weird to deport you.”

In his remarks, Reid agreed, citing the story of Astrid Silva, a 24-year old college student who immigrated from Mexico with her parents when she was just 4.

“She doesn’t even remember Mexico, the country where she was born,” Reid said. “She speaks perfect English. She was an honor student in high school. And never she’s called anyplace but Nevada her home.”

“For Astrid’s sake — and for the sake of every American — it is time Congress became part of the solution,” he said later.

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