San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro calls for 'common sense' immigration reform

Testimony given Tuesda before House Judiciary Committee

In testifying before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, Mayor Julian Castro said he favors the bipartisan framework for what he calls "comprehensive common sense immigration reform."

Castro said it should include strengthening border security, streamlining the nation's legal immigration policy, and a path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants.

"A path to citizenship should be the option that Congress selects. I don't see that as an extreme option," Castro said.

In addition to paying fines and back taxes -- plus learning English -- Castro said by going to the back of the line, immigrants would have a long wait.

"This is a years-long process and it's also earned. That's an important point that needs to be made," Castro said.

He said the option of leaving immigrants and their families in limbo as "second-class non-citizens" would be unprecedented.

Some on the committee said perhaps passing immigration reform would be easier by focusing on foreign workers who have the skills America needs.

"Being able to pick crops in the sun under the hot sun for 12 to 14 hours a day is a back-breaking kind of skill," Castro said. "Maybe not a high skill, but certainly a skill that many, many folks either do not -- or cannot -- do."

Castro said now that the President and a growing bipartisan effort are behind comprehensive immigration reform, he is more hopeful the U.S. House of Representatives can follow their lead.

The mayor also urged Latinos to contact lawmakers, urging them "to roll up their sleeves and work together."

He said Tuesday's hearing is only the beginning, "We need action."

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