Late GOP Sen. Domenici had unique immigration link: his mom - KWES NewsWest 9 / Midland, Odessa, Big Spring, TX: newswest9.com |

Late GOP Sen. Domenici had unique immigration link: his mom

By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Pete Domenici, the longest-serving senator from the most Hispanic state in the United States, kept his family's immigration experience private for years.

In one of his last speeches as a senator, the New Mexico Republican told his colleagues in 2006 that his deceased mother had been an immigrant from Italy in the U.S. illegally. She had been briefly detained by federal agents during World War II.

The Republican recounted on the Senate floor how as a child he wept during his mother's absence. It was a story that shocked his Senate colleagues, including U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, a New Mexico Democrat.

Domenici said his experience convinced him to introduce legislation granting immigrants in the country illegally a pathway to citizenship. The bill failed.

Domenici died Wednesday at 85.

This version corrects the year Domenici spoke about his family's immigration story,

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