East Hawaii News

Abercrombie Joins Governors’ Call for Immigration Reform

July 18, 2013, 6:10 PM HST
* Updated July 18, 6:13 PM
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Gov. Neil Abercrombie on Wednesday joined 14 other governors in sending a letter to leaders of the US House of Representatives urging action in adopting bipartisan immigration reform legislation.

A bill passed by the US Senate last month would give illegal immigrants an opportunity to become US citizens, expand border security and increase visas for legal and skilled immigrants.

However, the legislation has become bogged down in the House where attempts have been made to split it into bills dealing with the issues separately, the Washington Post reports. Supporters of the bill say that would effectively kill any chances of meaningful reform, the newspaper said.

According to a statement from the governor’s office, the letter sent to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-California) “emphasizes that such action is necessary for the nation to begin building an immigration system that reflects the country’s values and strengthens its economies.”

The letter said, in part:

“As reflected by the strong vote in the Senate, there is widespread support for an immigration bill that provides a fair, realistic pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented individuals currently in our country while, at the same time, securing our border.”

The statement said the governors also expressed support for visa programs that allow for agricultural guest workers and students studying science and math:

“Agriculture is one of the backbones of our country’s economy. Many of our farms, especially small family farms, will go out of business unless they are given access to a reliable workforce.

“We also support an immigration plan that provides visas to foreign graduate students in science and math who came to this country for an education. Our nation and states work hard to attract these talented students. We should give them the opportunity to stay so that they can contribute to our economies and access the American dream.

“This is not only the right policy for our nation, it also makes sense economically … We all recognize that immigrants contribute a great deal to our economy and our culture. We should make sure they are fully integrated into the social, civic and economic fabric of American life and have access to the same opportunities to succeed as everyone else.”

The others who signed the letter were Govs. Mike BeeBe (Arkansas), Dannel P. Malloy (Connecticut), John Hickenlooper (Colorado), Jack Markell (Delaware), Pat Quinn (Illinois), Steve Beshear (Kentucky), Deval Patrick (Massachusetts), Margaret Hassan (New Hampshire), Lincoln Chafee (Rhode Island), Jay Inslee (Washington), Martin O’Malley (Maryland), Mark Dayton (Minnesota), John Kitzhaber (Oregon), and Peter Shumlin (Vermont).

All of the governors are Democrats.

The Post also reported that more than 90 Catholic university heads on Thursday urged their fellow Catholics in Congress to approve immigration reform, saying that their faith “values the human dignity and worth of all immigrants.”

“We remind you that no human being made in the image of God is illegal,” they said in a public letter addressed to all 163 Catholic legislators, including Boehner and Pelosi.

The group asked the lawmakers to resist pressure from “powerful interest groups” and said that as Catholics, they have a “serious responsibility to consider the moral dimensions” of policies, the newspaper said.

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