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Last updated: March 16. 2013 9:25PM - 261 Views
By ERICA WERNER, Associated Press



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WASHINGTON — Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is part of a new bipartisan group that will push for an overhaul of the nation's immigration laws and a path to citizenship for an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States.


The other co-chairs of the new effort are former Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Henry Cisneros, a Democrat; and former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, several people involved told The Associated Press on Friday.


The high-profile group, brought together by the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, will aim to keep up momentum behind overhauling immigration and serve as a sounding board for policy makers, Rendell said.


The effort is also meant to underscore that there is a bipartisan consensus behind passing immigration legislation. Bipartisan Senate negotiators are aiming to finalize a bill by March and get it through the Senate by summer, although success is far from certain. Even if legislation gets through the Senate, the Republican-led House would still have to approve it. President Barack Obama is also pushing on the issue.


I hope it makes plain that there is bipartisan support for pro-growth solutions that would result from immigration reform, Barbour said in an interview.


Rendell said that, there are a lot of issues that are yet to be resolved and it's going to take a lot of goodwill and a lot of patience, and anyone who thinks we're going to have an immigration bill by the end of March is probably a cockeyed optimist.


Obviously this cannot wait, Cisneros said. If we're going to be helpful we need to weigh in immediately.


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