American Conservative Union Chairman: Legalize Illegal Aliens

By Michael W. Chapman | March 4, 2013 | 2:29pm EST

American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas. (AP)

( – American Conservative Union Chairman Al Cardenas said he supported a bipartisan Senate effort at immigration reform, stressing that the proposal must include a way for an estimated 11 million illegal aliens to “come out of the shadows” and be given “a legal status where they can be secure in this country for their future and that of their children.”

Cardenas made his remarks on the Spanish-language Telemundo show Enfoque on Sunday, noting that immigration is an issue he plans to stress at the upcoming Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Washington, D.C., which opens next week.

On Enfoque, host Jose Diaz-Balart asked Cardenas, “And in your point of view, should this immigration proposal include a legal coming-out-of-the-shadows for the 11 million undocumented?”

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Cardenas said, “Without a doubt. If not, it won’t work.  Look, you have to deal with the four basic tenets of immigration. We have to make sure that we know who everyone is that is in this country, that every person have some form of identification. We have to ensure that there is opportunity for everybody here.”

He continued, “We have to ensure that those who will help this country have immediate access to residency and citizenship, and these 11 million people have to come out of the shadows. We have to give them a legal status where they can be secure in this country for their future and that of their children.”

The host also asked Cardenas, “Here in Washington, this coming Thursday, you’ve got a series of important meetings leading up to your annual conference [CPAC]. Is immigration the first subject that you’ll be broaching?”

Cardenas said, “Indeed. [Immigration was] something that was unheard of within conservative circles a short time ago. And that’s why there is, right now, a small window of opportunity to accomplish something that we haven’t done in over 20 years, to do real immigration reform. We can’t waste this moment.  We all have to come together and get the job done.”

“We will have to compromise on one thing or another, both sides, in order to attain that eventual outcome, but this has to happen this year or who knows? God only knows when it might happen,” said Cardenas.  “And we think that at this conservative conference [CPAC], where over 10,000 people will be in attendance, is the most opportune time for us, as conservatives,  to stimulate the conservative electorate to support this immigration measure and say yes to it.”

When asked what is the American Conservative Union’s “position with regard to immigration reform?” Cardenas said, “We are in support, and I’ve shared my opinion in editorials throughout the country, in support of the principles put forth by the group of eight senators – a bipartisan group – four Democratic senators and four Republicans, including two Hispanics, Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Marco Rubio. We support those measures, we are in support of a law, which is imminent to be filed in the Senate, and we are hopeful that the House would also take a similar tack.”

The so-called “Gang of 8” senators are Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennett (D-Colo.).

The four points in their immigration proposal are: 1) creating a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already here that is contingent upon securing the border and combating visa overstays; 2) improving our legal immigration system and attracting the world’s best and brightest; 3) strong employment verification; and 4) admitting new workers and protecting workers’ rights. 

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