Sen. Leahy calls for action on immigration - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Sen. Leahy calls for action on immigration

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Sen. Patrick Leahy Sen. Patrick Leahy
Janet Napolitano Janet Napolitano

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, says the time has come to pass comprehensive immigration legislation with a pathway to citizenship for the nation's 11 million illegal immigrants.

Leahy made the comments as he opened the Senate's first hearing of the year on immigration. It came a day after President Barack Obama used his State of the Union address to renew his call for sweeping immigration legislation.

Leahy questioned Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on efforts to secure the U.S. borders and improvements in deporting illegal aliens with criminal records.

"If you had a legalization process, does that make your efforts to apprehend and remove those who have committed crimes or fugitives; does it make it more difficult or less difficult?" Leahy asked.

"Oh, it makes it less difficult," Napolitano answered. "And the reason, Mr. Chairman, is because, as I mentioned in my statement, it takes out of the enforcement area those who have long-standing relationships in the country, who have been here for years, who are already working paying their taxes."

The packed hearing was disrupted multiple times by protesters shouting in the back. They were quickly removed from the committee room.

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