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Ex-speaker: Give undocumented immigrants legal status

The effort to give undocumented immigrants a shot at legal status got a boost Thursday from an influential Republican.

Former House speaker Dennis Hastert, the longest-serving GOP speaker in history, told the Wall Street Journal that his former colleagues should pass an immigration bill that would improve border security and give legal status to the estimated 11 to 12 million undocumented immigrants already in the USA.

“We need to give these people legal status,” Hastert said in the WSJ interview. “The live here. They work here. They raise families here. We need to recognize that they’re here.”

Hastert, from Illinois, was speaker in 2006 when a major immigration bill passed the Senate but got nowhere in the House of Representatives. Fast forward to today. The Democratic-controlled Senate passed an immigration bill last year, which includes a path to citizenship, but the GOP-controlled House has yet to consider the same legislation.

The former speaker said politics makes it necessary for the House to act. “Why alienate a large voting bloc of American people?” said Hastert, who left office in 2007.

The House GOP is expected to announce its broad principles for immigration legislation.  Our colleague, Alan Gomez, will have complete coverage on

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