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Immigrant-Rights Group: Reform Must Include Citizenship Path

<p>Citizenship, not just legalization, has to be ultimate goal.</p>
Immigrant protesters in support of the Dream Act hold a rally outside New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's New York City office on January 8, 2014 in New York City. Andrew Burton / Getty Images

Anticipating the release of a House outline on key components of potential immigration reform legislation, a group of immigrants rights organizations put out their own set of principles, and first on their list was a path to citizenship.

"A democracy does not work with just a few chosen full participants, and entire groups of people excluded," said Josh Hoyt, director of the National Partnership for New Americans. Hoyt said this should be something Republicans support since "citizenship and family are kind of conservative - not everyone offered the opportunity of citizenship takes it, but it's important..."

Some Republican legislators have said they would support a path to legalization for undocumented immigrants that fulfill certain requirements but have stopped short of agreeing on a path to citizenship.

A recent Pew Hispanic survey found that if asked to prioritize, Hispanics say it is more important to obtain relief from deportation for undocumented immigrant over a special pathway to citizenship, by 55 percent to 35 percent.

This does not mean Latinos do not value a path to citizenship; as Mark Hugo Lopez, director of the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project, points out, 89 percent of Hispanics believe undocumented immigrants should be allowed a gradual path to citizenship if they fulfill certain requirements.

The American public agrees; Lopez points out a Pew Research/USA Today poll found that 71 percent of of U.S. adults agree that undocumented immigrants should be able to stay in the country legally if they meet certain requirements.