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Senate panel holding hearing on immigration reform

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WASHINGTON -

Senators are holding their third hearing on immigration reform in Washington today. The legislation they're considering would create a path to citizenship for the 11 million people here illegally.

The issue was already controversial, but now the recent Boston bombings are becoming part of the debate.

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told a Senate panel she supports a new bi-partisan immigration reform bill. She believes the provision to identify 11 million immigrants currently in the country illegally will help improve security.

The two brothers accused in the Boston bombings were both legal immigrants to the U.S. The bombings have prompted some lawmakers to question immigration reform. They argue the attacks show the need to address national security in the immigration system.

Senator Rand Paul says the current reform bill should be halted. Senator Chuck Grassley is calling for caution.

Senator Chuck Schumer, who helped design the current bill, took exception at Monday's hearing.

National security is just the latest controversy in immigration reform. Several lawmakers already oppose the bill because it gives illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

The bill would grant temporary legal status to illegal immigrants if they pay a $500 fee and back taxes, pass a background check, and have a job. They would then have to wait 10 years to be eligible for a green card and three more years to apply for citizenship.

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