Sen. Reid, business leaders push to pass immigration reform - 8 News NOW

Sen. Reid, business leaders push to pass immigration reform

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LAS VEGAS -- Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is calling for the House of Representatives to vote on an immigration reform bill, which he says will strengthening the U.S. southern border, wipe out a trillion dollars of debt, and modernize an antiquated immigration system.

The senator made the announcement during a news conference Tuesday. He was joined by the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce, the Latin Chamber of Commerce, the Urban Chamber of Commerce and other business and tourism leaders.

Senator Reid pointed to immigration reform being critical to the future of the nation's economy and specifically to the economies of Nevada and Las Vegas, but he says time is running out.

There are approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States, according to the most recent estimates from the Pew Research Center Hispanic Trends Project.

For years, the debate has gone back and forth about whether the country should create a pathway to citizenship or deport them.

"When we started on this, we did not have the support of the American people, but now we do. We have the support of the American people," Reid said.

Sen. Reid took the floor in the Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce to say there is now a solution. Legislation has been before the House for nearly a year, after passing in the Senate.

Reid says he believes most Republicans would vote for the bill, if House Speaker John Boehner would bring it forward.

"The problem is there is a significant number of his Tea-Party driven caucus that don't accept the world has changed," Reid said.

The bill S-744 would create a pathway to citizenship. Undocumented immigrants would have to pay fines, pay taxes, learn English and wait about 12 years before getting full legal status.

It is a plan that critics have called amnesty for people who broke the law coming to this country in the first place.

The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce estimates immigrants have a $1 billion impact in Nevada and around 20 percent of businesses are owned by someone born outside this country.

The bill would also update the way companies verify if someone is a citizen.

"It would assure businesses and employers that they have better opportunities and a clearer process with government agencies. That is going to improve job creation in this climate," vice president for government affairs with the chamber Brian McAnallen said.

Reid says the congressional deadline is approaching. It is do or die for the bill.

"We just need to have a vote in the house, a vote," Reid said.

Senator Dean Heller, R-Nev., voted for S-744 in the Senate. Heller and Nevada's Republican Congressman Joe Heck have both called for the House to take a vote on the bill.

They are on record saying they think it would pass.

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