Groups push Congress for border-fix bill

Passage of hard-line immigration legislation in Arizona makes it imperative for Congress to adopt comprehensive immigration reform before November's elections, a group of advocates said on Monday.

"It's the shot heard 'round the world," said Angela Kelley, vice president for immigration policy and advocacy at the Center for American Progress, about the new Arizona law, which allows law-enforcement officers to stop anyone and demand proof that they are legal residents of the United States.

The Arizona law "truly elevates the policy and moral case for action," said Clarissa Martinez de Castro, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza.

They warned that President Obama and Democrats need to keep their promise to act on immigration reform, and that Republicans who want to repair relations with Hispanic voters should join the push.

Kelley said lawmakers who say Congress cannot handle climate-change legislation and immigration reform in an election year are setting up a false choice.

"We need to do both," she said.

At the White House on Monday, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs echoed that sentiment.

"I think there's room for progress on both issues," Gibbs said. "I think whichever bill has the support it needs to be passed, that's what will be moved first."

Gibbs acknowledged the crowded calendar and the limited number of session days in a campaign year. But, he said, energy legislation "has to be a priority" because of the national security threat that comes with a dependence on foreign oil. He added that fixing immigration is also a must-pass issue because the Arizona law might encourage other states to pass bad bills.

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