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Senator Bob Menendez: Immigration Reform Is The 'Civil Rights Issue Of Our Time' (VIDEO)

01/28/2013 06:41 pm ET | Updated Jan 29, 2013

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said Monday that immigration reform is the "civil rights issue of our time."

Menendez is among the group of eight Senate Democrats and Republicans that unveiled proposals today for a broad overhaul of the country's immigration laws.

Speaking to HuffPost Live's Marc Lamont Hill, Menendez said he believes the push for reform will be more effective this time around, considering that it follows November's election in which the Latino vote played a critical role.

"We have a ways to go here, but elections have consequences," Menendez told HuffPost Live. "I think that our Republican colleagues, the Republican National Party, understands this is our new demographic in America as a result of the election. I think they understand if they want to be a national party, they're going to have to deal with this issue. For Latinos and other immigrants, this is the civil rights issue of our time."

Under the proposal set forth by Menendez and his colleagues, undocumented immigrants would be allowed to register with the government, pay a fine, and then be given a probationary legal status allowing them to work.

The senator said the system would prioritize those individuals who have been waiting under the legal immigration system or who have a visa petition approved, but have not had their visa number come up yet. Once they are processed, he said, "then we would begin the process of having those who are in this country undocumented to be able to move forward and seek their own permanent visas."

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