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New NPR Immigration Series: Immigration Reform Must Happen in 2013

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At NPR this morning is the first report in a series analyzing the need for US immigration reform following last month’s election.

“Republicans and Democrats are pushing to make overhauling immigration a priority in 2013. Senator-elect Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, is expected to play a big part in any overhaul of immigration laws,” reads the blurb for the report by Ted Robbins.

The report delves into the history of recent immigration reform, starting with the 1986 law that President Reagan signed, followed by the attempts to pass a new bill in 2006 and 2007.  Immigration came up as a major issue to tackle again last month, after “the nation’s Hispanics voted overwhelmingly to re-elect President Obama and pushed immigration to the forefront of the national agenda.”

And by immigration reform, advocates want to make it clear that they’re talking about an approach that creates a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million Americans here without papers.  As Julieta Garibay of United We DREAM says in the report, we “want something comprehensive.  Throwing us little pieces, ‘oh let’s just do it by piecemeal,’ is not going to cut it, and I think DREAMers have really seen their power.”

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a member of the Senate Gang of 8 that has come together to work toward immigration reform legislation, was also quoted by the report.

“Both [Democrats and Republicans] are motivated” to pass immigration reform, he said.  But “if it’s going to happen, it needs to happen this year,” before the 2014 election season starts up again.

“The prospects are good,” he added.  “There is a path to citizenship, but it’s an arduous path, a difficult path.”

Listen to the full NPR story: “Immigration Changes ‘Gotta Happen This Year’” here.  And tune back in later today as NPR looks at Alabama, home state to the nation’s toughest anti-immigrant law.