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Democrats Push Immigration Reform In Central Washington

Matt Martin/Northwest News Network. Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-Illinois) speaks to supporters of immigration reform in Yakima, Washington.

Supporters of the immigration overhaul that passed the U.S. Senate are drumming up support for the legislation in the Northwest. On Saturday, one of the Democrats taking the lead on the issue in Congress spoke to a crowded church in Yakima, Washington.

Illinois Congressman Luis Gutierrez is on a national tour this summer. It comes as the U.S. House considers a path to citizenship for 11 million immigrants in the country illegally. During his speech he called on House Speaker John Boehner to allow an up or down vote on the comprehensive bill passed by the Senate. But many Republicans prefer to vote on each issue individually.

“We have the votes and the time to act is now,” Gutierrez said. And he says that’s why he is coming to towns like Yakima with significant Latino populations.

"Yakima Valley is important because given the large number of immigrants and people of immigrant roots that live in Yakima County and immigrants are very critical to the state of Washington,” Gutierrez said.

Gutierrez and his supporters are hoping to pressure Central Washington Congressman Doc Hastings to support the bipartisan immigration overhaul. The Republican has been skeptical and says the Senate bill needs a number of improvements before it can move forward.