Norm Coleman says GOP should embrace immigration reform with path to citizenship

Former Sen. Norm Coleman says he believes the nation, and the Republican Party, must embrace immigration reform.

By that, he means: protect the borders, but still provide a “path to citizenship” for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. — let them get in line, but not go to the head of the line, he said.

In a commentary posted in the Pioneer Press, Coleman, the former St. Paul mayor, says:

“My evolution on this issue is, I believe, reflective of the evolution of many Americans.

“…It’s time we reject the notion that we are going to send 12 million fellow human beings back to places they fled to escape poverty, crime and hopelessness.

“It’s time we, as conservatives — as Republicans — as Americans — embrace the fact that the failure to stem illegal immigration to America is a shared failure by leaders of both political parties — including our own.”

His plan:

“Let us agree that illegal immigrants who have obeyed the rules of our society — who have not broken other laws beyond that which got them here illegally — and have contributed to society should be granted a path to citizenship. Not getting ahead of the line — but getting into the line.

“Let’s get them Social Security numbers — paying taxes — being visible and vocal members of our communities. Embrace them as our neighbors — and celebrate them as our fellow Americans.”

He also says, if the people of Puerto Rico want to become the 51st state, “let’s embrace them.”

A story in today’s Pioneer Press quotes Ken Martin, the state DFL Party Chairman, on Coleman’s immigration thinking:

“Obviously, Republicans are starting to see the handwriting on the wall from these past election results. Their message and candidates are appealing to a smaller and smaller segment. They need to find a way to appeal to a broader base or they’ll continue to lose elections.”

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