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Senate Hearings Begin On Immigration Reform Proposal

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Senate Hearings Begin On Immigration Reform Proposal

Senate Hearings Begin On Immigration Reform Proposal

Associated Press

The "Gang of Eight" senators hold a news conference on Capitol Hill on Thursday to discuss their immigration overhaul bill. The senators, from left, are Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Richard Durbin, D-Ill., John McCain, R-Ariz., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met Friday morning to review the proposed immigration reform bill.

It was a subdued hearing with cancellations by key speakers like Homeland Security Sec. Janet Napolitano as events continued to unfold in Massachusetts.

Still, the committee heard arguments from two perspectives. Peter Kirsanow of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission argued illegal immigration hurts the country’s lowest paid workers.

"The evidence also indicated that in addition to depressing employment levels, illegal immigration drove down wage levels," Kirsanow said.

He said any steps to legalizing the status of immigrants already here would drive more illegal immigration into the country.

Douglas Holtz-Eakin is former director of the Congressional Budget Office. He countered that view.

"Number one if we’re worried about the ability of low skill Americans to earn a wage, we should fix the low skill problem. That’s the problem," he said.

The immigration reform proposal would offer a path to citizenship to people who entered the country illegally before Dec. 31, 2011. The senators who launched the proposal said Congress will vote on the proposal in June.

Fronteras Desk senior editor Michel Marizco is an award-winning investigative reporter based in Flagstaff.