Rep. Ruben Hinojosa, D-Texas, left, speaks as Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas, looks on during a news conference on Friday, Sept. 14, 2012, in advance of the Lincoln Memorial “Freedom Rally,” scheduled September 15, which is calling on comprehensive immigration reform and passage of the DREAM Act. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

OP-ED: Comprehensive immigration reform must be a priority for 2013

The Hispanic community will look back at 2013 as a historic year. For the first time in generations, the United States Congress is ready to resolve one of our community’s greatest concerns – “how do we address immigration reform in a humane and just way?”

In 2013, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus will continue to demonstrate our commitment to comprehensive immigration reform (CIR) that serves the interests of all Americans and contributes effectively to our economic well-being.

In order to accomplish this great task, we need help.

We need President Obama to put his full effort into immigration reform.

We need our partners in the Senate to work with us on a bill that will pass in both chambers.

And we need our Republican colleagues in the House to believe in bipartisan solutions.

President Obama has the support and trust of Latinos in this country. There is no better proof of this than the results of 2012 elections. The Hispanic electorate was decisive for President Obama’s agenda, with 71 percent of Hispanic voters casting their ballot for the president’s second term. But to retain this trust, the president and Congress must move forward with the mandate for CIR.

America has always been a nation of immigrants. In order to preserve our history, national identity and culture we must create a modern legal immigration system that reflects our legacy.

As we move forward in conversations about what reform would look like, there are some key elements that the CHC is looking for.

To us, CIR must provide the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. an opportunity to earn citizenship by requiring them to register with the federal government, submit to fingerprinting and a criminal background check, learn English and American civics, pay taxes and earn a path to permanent residency and eventual citizenship

Our vision of CIR builds on the extraordinary success of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and attracts the best and the brightest investors, innovators, and skilled professionals, including those in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies.

Not surprisingly, most Americans agree to this approach. In a poll by Latino Decisions in June 2011, 58% of all registered voters (including Republicans) and 75% of Latino registered voters wanted a comprehensive approach with a path to citizenship.

In the 113th Congress, the CHC will remain committed to comprehensive immigration reform and dedicate all our efforts and time to ensure legislation will make it to President Obama’s desk.

OP ED: Comprehensive immigration reform must be a priority for 2013 rubenpic politics NBC Latino News

Chairman Rubén Hinojosa (D-Texas), Congressional Hispanic Caucus

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