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Moran Hopes To Make Immigration Reform A Reality In Next Congress

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Immigration reform activists protest in front of the White House in June.
Armando Trull
Immigration reform activists protest in front of the White House in June.

With the new session of Congress forming, there's buzz on Capitol Hill that a bipartisan immigration deal might be possible. That isn't likely to come during the current lame-duck session, however, if a narrow bill sponsored by House Republicans that comes up for a vote this week is any indication.

Hispanics turned out in droves on Election Day for President Obama. That has some in the GOP saying the party is ready to compromise on immigration reform.

The president and Republican leaders don't have to look too far for a solution, says Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.), who has sponsored legislation that could quiet Republicans who oppose offering a path to citizenship.

Instead of a blanket amnesty, Moran would require new citizens to have proficiency in English, a clean criminal record and an understanding of civics.

"The alternative of deporting 12 million people is irrational," Moran says. "I think that it is even immoral in the case of so many children who have grown up here and identify themselves as Americans. I think have every right to be on a path to citizenship."

Still, House Republicans are moving forward this week with a more narrow bill  aimed mostly at attracting more highly skilled workers to the U.S. Moran believes the bill has merit, but wants to see that measure should be coupled with a broader reform effort.

"I support that but I think it's part of the same package," Moran says.

The GOP bill also allows more spouses and children of people with green cards to live in the U.S. while they await their own. But it doesn't address undocumented workers.

Democrats defeated a different version of the high skilled immigration bill earlier this year. House Republican leaders made changes that should guarantee its passage, but it's unclear if it will reach the Senate in the lame-duck session.

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