Panel urges a path toward citizenship

Aim is to help move debate in Congress forward

WASHINGTON — A high-profile bipartisan task force chaired by former governors and Cabinet secretaries endorsed eventual citizenship for immigrants living in the country illegally as part of a package of recommendations Thursday.

The proposals were aimed at influencing the debate on immigration, with Congress on a five-week summer recess and Senate-passed immigration legislation stalled in the GOP-controlled House.

The immigration task force, convened by the Bipartisan Policy Center, is co-chaired by former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice and former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, both Republicans; along with former Pennsylvania governor Ed Rendell and former housing secretary Henry Cisneros, who are Democrats.


The group’s recommendations included calling for an independent commission to measure border security; a path to citizenship for the 11 million people living here without legal permission; and a strong visa program to bring foreign workers into the economy, coupled with stricter penalties for employers that hire or exploit workers living here illegally.

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‘‘We find it’s possible to reach common ground on some basic principles that do get a broad agreement from people coming at the problem with different political perspectives,’’ said Michael Chertoff, a former US homeland security chief

‘‘We’re hopeful that the country, when we all take a deep breath over the summer, looks at how broken the system currently is [and] will see that the value of coming up with a broad consensus reform far outweighs the benefit of the status quo.’’

But the task force criticized the Senate’s approach to border security, a last-minute compromise aimed at securing GOP votes that sets aside $46 billion to double the number of agents along the Mexico border, to complete hundreds of miles of fencing, and to beef up technology from drones to helicopters to watchtowers. The approach ‘‘does not provide outcome-based border-security metrics that are trustworthy and verifiable,’’ the report said, calling for the creation of such measures that would be audited by an independent commission and made public.