EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Merrimack Valley

March 21, 2013

U.S. Senate candidate pays visit to Lawrence

LAWRENCE — U.S. Senate candidate Gabriel Gomez, in a swing through the Immigrant City yesterday in an effort to expand the base and reach of the Republican Party into urban areas and to a more diverse population, said he backed immigration reform.

Gomez, the son of Colombian immigrants who served nine years in the Navy and is a private equity investor, stopped at Sunnyside Diner on Broadway and Tripoli Bakery on Common Street to introduce himself to voters here yesterday afternoon. He is one of three Republicans vying for the nomination to represent the party in a special election to replace former U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

He said he supports the outlines of a bipartisan immigration reform proposal taking shape in the Senate, backed on the Republican side by U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio of Florida and John McCain of Arizona, that grants undocumented immigrants legal status and allows undocumented immigrants without a criminal record to apply for citizenship.

“It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible,” he said.

First and foremost, though, Gomez, of Cohasset, said the government should put more resources and more people on the southern border to prevent more illegal immigration. Those who are here and without a criminal record could be given legal status and start at the back of the line for citizenship.

He said he would consider ideas for fines or other penalties, but did not take a stance on that. “The goal is to bring clarity (for immigrants) and to secure the border,” Gomez said.

Gomez’ campaign said he was standing by his comments on March 14 where he said he is not in favor of granting amnesty to undocumented immigrants, but did not specify the difference between amnesty and proposals that grant legal status and potential citizenship to those immigrants.

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