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Latham calls Senate immigration reform bill “a good start”

(Radio Iowa News) – Republican Congressman Tom Latham says the U.S. Senate is making a “good start” on an immigration reform plan, but Latham would like to see changes in the proposal.

“I’m very pleased the Senate has finally had a debate in an open forum…five days in committee and they’re going to bring it to the floor and the House is going to do the same thing,” Latham says. “We’re not going to automatically pick up whatever the senate does.”

Latham says he has “real concerns” about the Senate’s approach.

“They’re talking about giving status to folks long before there’s ever any enforcement of immigration laws,” Latham says.

This week a coalition of Democrats and Republicans on the Judiciary Committee in the U.S. Senate voted for an immigration reform plan that would create a 13-year path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Latham says that plan should not be initiated until there’s proof the border is secure and a verification system must be in place so employers can check the status of potential workers.

“We’ve got to address the problem,” Latham says. “It is a broken system that’s caused a lot of heartache for a lot of families, but we’ve got to do it right.”

Latham made his comments during taping of the “Iowa Press” program that airs this evening on Iowa Public Television.

The Senate bill would create a new visa program for low-skilled workers in ag-related industries. It also raises the cap on the number of visas granted to highly skilled foreigners.

Iowa’s other Republican congressman — Steve King — has called the Senate bill a “terrible idea” that “rewards people who break the law.”