Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
BY KAREN SHUEY, Staff Writer
It might be a foreign concept in Washington these days, but a group of U.S. senators showed last month that finding common ground is possible.
The release of a new bipartisan plan to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and a policy address from President Barack Obama launched new momentum on a long-stalled issue.
And congressional members who represent Lancaster County -- from both sides of the aisle -- said they are optimistic that they can work together to pass immigration reform this year.
"This is significant legislation because, when you have this amount of people coming together, it's a substantial step in the right direction," Sen. Bob Casey said.
Coming up with the actual language of the bill, the Democrat said, will be the hard part. Overall, the delegation wants change, but the kind that fits with their views.
Rep. Joe Pitts, a Republican who represents much of Lancaster County, is hopeful the issue will move forward in Congress.
"Our immigration system has faced serious problems for many years -- the largest problems being porous borders and an inability to prevent visa overstays," he said in a statement.
The devil is in the details, and there are strong passions in this debate, Sen. Pat Toomey said.
"Our immigration system should be open to newcomers who want to work hard and contribute to our communities and economy, like my grandparents and so many other immigrants over the centuries," he said in a statement.
Casey said that in Pennsylvania, immigration is a big issue for the agriculture industry.
"We have a lot of migration workers who do an important job," he said.
Rep. Pat Meehan, a Republican who represents seven municipalities in the eastern part of the county, agreed.
"Reforms must focus on keeping the best and brightest and the hard workers here," he said.
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