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Rice, Barbour Working With Democrats on Immigration Task Force

By Lisa Barron   |   Tuesday, 12 Feb 2013 10:13 AM

The question of whether the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States should be given a path to citizenship is among the key challenges facing a new bipartisan task force working on an immigration overhaul, according to the Huffington Post.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, one of the two Republican leaders of the group, told reporters in a phone call Monday, "I don't actually have an 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."

The group, organized by the Bipartisan Policy Center, is also led by former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, a Democrat, as well as former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Henry Cisneros, also a Democrat. The other dozen or so members have not yet been announced.

While bipartisan committees in both the House and the Senate are working on a blueprint for immigration reform, the task force is expected to come up with its own policy proposals in an effort to move the issue forward.

On the same call with reporters, Barbour said the group is open to a number of options, including both a piecemeal approach and a comprehensive bill.

"I don’t know where this task force will come out," he said. "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."

Rice said she believes enforcement of border security could take place alongside other reforms.

"I think there’s a tendency to think that the border security problem has to be completely and totally solved first. You’re not going to get there," she asserted. "But if you have sound immigration policies, it’s actually easier to have border enforcement. So I’m a fan of doing both together."

Many conservatives have advocated for stricter border security and employment verification ahead of allowing undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship.

Rice was part of an immigration reform effort during the administration of President George W. Bush, but that attempt fell apart in 2007.

"There are many things that I wish we had gotten done," she told reporters, "but comprehensive immigration reform is really right at the top of the list for me."

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