Speaking alongside members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus on Capitol Hill, New Jersey Sen. Bob Menendez said President Obama’s re-election victory gives the Democratic Party a “mandate” to enact legislation that would grant illegal immigrants an “earned” pathway to citizenship.
“I believe this election was a mandate to enact immigration reform that provides an earned pathway to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented in the United States,” said Menendez during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus press conference on Wednesday.
“Certainly the Latino community in this county and immigrant communities in general made a huge difference for President Obama in this election. I think he recognizes that, more importantly, I think he understands this is the right policy to pursue on behalf of the country and we expect that he will put political capital on the table to help make this happen.”
Democratic Illinois Rep. Luis Gutierrez said members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus used to be the “unwanted party crashers” at Democratic caucus meetings with the party’s leadership.
“We used to make all of the other guests uncomfortable. We stood alone sometimes in the corner but proud to do so. Well, all of the sudden, we’re the bell of the ball,” he said.
“Well, we’re here to say it’s time to start the dance. You know why? Because what we’ve always been asking for on behalf of America’s immigrants is simple, fair and just. Comprehensive immigration reform is the right thing to do and it’s good for everybody.”
Although the caucus is not currently proposing any formal legislation, members announced nine “principles” they argue “must” be part of a “comprehensive” immigration reform bill.
These include requiring the “estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. to register with the federal government, submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check, learn English and American civics and pay taxes to contribute fully and legally to our economy and earn a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship.”