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Groups press Senate on legalizing undocumented migrants

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jewish groups urged the U.S. Senate to pass legislation that would legalize undocumented immigrants.

The U.S. House of Representatives last week passed the DREAM Act, which offers a path to citizenship to illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before they were 16 and have remained at least five years.

Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate majority leader, has said passing the bill is a priority before the Congress ends its session this month.

"This long overdue legislation is a just response to the needs of young adults who wish to continue to make a positive contribution to our nation," the Reform movement’s Religious Action Center said in a statement. "It will make it possible for them to serve our nation in the military and by furthering their education, eventually attaining legal residency and citizenship."

The Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the National Council of Jewish Women also are are pressing for passage.

"Many of the estimated 50,000-65,000 undocumented students who graduate from American high schools each year were brought to the U.S. when they were very young and grew up in American schools, learning American values, and experiencing American culture," HIAS said in a statement. "These hardworking young people, who just want to build productive futures and contribute to America, deserve to be on a citizenship track."

Republicans will assume the majority of the U.S. House of Representatives in the next Congress, making it much less likely for a similar bill to pass. President Obama has urged passage, saying the bill would help address the immigration reform he promised and also pledged by his predecessor, George W. Bush.

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