New, heavyweight bipartisan group convenes to assist possible immigration reform

According to a new Washington Post piece, a new bipartisan task force has assembled consisting of Republicans Condoleezza Rice and Haley Barbour and Democrats Henry Cisneros and Ed Rendell. There are still numerous issues that must be resolved with possible immigration reform. The most challenging issue this group will be addressing is whether undocumented immigrants should be a given a pathway to citizenship.

Each of the group members say that they are coming in with an open mind and hope to bounce ideas off each other until they come up with a conclusion that satisfies both parties. “I come in with an open mind on this,” Rice, former secretary of state to President George W. Bush, told reporters on Monday. “I don’t actually have an exact answer at this point because I think this is actually the hardest and most vexing issue. So I look forward to sharing views with other members of the task force.” However, time is running out and they will not have an indefinite period to debate the proper direction which immigration should go. President Obama announced that if Congress cannot come to a consensus in a timely manner then he will present his own bill.

The group will have a significant impact on swaying Congress in their decision since each member is very influential and respected in their party and they have not made their minds up yet. The group plans to hold events and meet with lawmakers nationwide to come up with policy proposals. The four former officials agree that the reform has to address worker visas, border security, internal enforcement and the undocumented immigrants residing in the U.S. currently. Barbour commented that he supports the idea of a pathway to citizenship as long as it includes fines and taxes. “I don’t know where this task force will come out, but for myself, I think it would be productive if there is a path to citizenship that is separate from a green card, separate from a guest worker but is a much more strenuous path that requires more than just allowing guest workers to come here and work legally,” Barbour said on the same call with reporters.

Rice mentioned that she is not in favor of a piece-by-piece agreement that some of the others in the group are suggesting. So there are still many things just within the group that not everyone will necessarily agree on, but they will do their best to compromise in the limited time they have. “To my mind, when you have John McCain and Jon Kyl and Ted Kennedy and George Bush all together, it’s hard to believe you can’t get something done,” Rice added later. “I think it just shows the difficulty of this issue.”

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