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Rep. Jeff Denham: Legalization Without Citizenship is "un-American"

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In advance of a House Republican summit and statement of principles on immigration that is expected to mention legalization — but not citizenship — for undocumented immigrants, one House Republican is firing back against the idea of preventing people from becoming citizens.

Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA) told Jorge Ramos yesterday that “you have to have some type of citizenship in the future” as part of immigration reform:

Whether we start with a provisional status and legal permanent residence … or we set up some other way to assimilate legally, you can’t ever put in something that says, ‘You can never become a citizen,’ that’s un-American

I expect if you are going to come out of the shadows, then you’re going to want to have some type of hope in the future that you’re going to improve your life and, yes, accomplish that American Dream.

As a Congressman from California — where elected officials tend to understand the power of the Latino vote better than most — whose district is about 40% Latino, Rep. Denham gets it.  He’s been an outspoken champion of immigration reform with a path to citizenship, and was the very first Republican co-sponsor of the House immigration bill, HR 15.  (To thank him, we sent a plane over his district with this message.)  He knows that we need to stop the deportations, understands that walling people off from citizenship is not in the nation’s character — and realizes that Republicans must pass immigration reform if they’re ever to get right with Latino voters.

At the Republican retreat this week, we hope that Rep. Denham will do even more, and be an active voice calling on the House GOP to push past principles already, and put out some legislation.