Dayton urges Congress to act on immigration


Gov. Mark Dayton (MPR Photo/ Tim Nelson)

Gov. Mark Dayton and 14 other Democratic governors have sent a letter to leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives urging them to act on legislation that would change immigration laws. The letter, which was sent to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., calls for the House to pass “commonsense immigration reform.”

 “As reflected by the strong vote in the Senate, there is widespread support for an immigration bill that provides a fair, realistic pathway to earned citizenship for undocumented individuals currently in our country while, at the same time, securing our border,” the letter said. “Recognizing that with rights come responsibilities, we agree that individuals who wish to take advantage of this pathway must first pay taxes and a penalty. They are reasonable requirements to ensure that everyone plays by the same rules in order to access the opportunities our nation has to offer. At the same time, however, this pathway must not be impassable. We should avoid and reject any requirements that litter the pathway with insurmountable obstacles.”

It isn’t clear how much pressure the letter will put on the GOP-controlled House. Republicans are split on whether they should pass a comprehensive immigration bill, work on a piecemeal approach or do anything beyond strengthening the nation’s borders.

The Republican members of Minnesota’s Congressional delegation are split on a path forward. U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, has criticized the Senate bill – which provides a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million people in the United States without permission. U.S. Rep. John Kline said he’s open to providing some sort of legal status to immigrants who are in the country illegally. U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen said he’s weighing all options when it comes to immigration. All three Republicans stress that controlling the nation’s borders should be a priority.

Here’s the letter: