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Kansas officials call for immigration reform

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Several Kansas officials on Tuesday called on Congress to approve immigration reform.

"We need a national solution and we need it soon," said Allie Devine, a former Kansas agriculture secretary.

In Washington, D.C., several Republican and Democratic senators are trying to craft a bill to secure the nation's borders, improve legal immigration and offer eventual citizenship to millions of people now in the country illegally.

Mike O'Neal, former Kansas House speaker and now chief executive officer of the Kansas Chamber of Commerce, said, "A well-crafted and targeted worker program, coupled with an effective border protection policy, offers the best hope of a ‘win-win’ strategy.”

Others speaking in favor of a bi-partisan immigration measure were the Rev. Mark Mertes of Blessed Sacrament Church; the Rev. Jason Schoff of Mission Adelante; both of Kansas City, Kan.; and Bob Stephan, former Kansas attorney general.

"Hispanics and other undocumented workers contribute to our society and they deserve a solution to solve the dilemma that faces them and our nation. We must design a road to lawful status and citizenship that respects those who have been in line and awaiting naturalization," Stephan said.

The roundtable discussion featuring Kansas officials was held at the Savior Pastoral Center Retreat and Conference Center in Kansas City, Kan. The event was sponsored by the Washington, D.C.-based National Immigration Forum.

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