WASHINGTON (AP) — More than two dozen conservative leaders have signed on to a statement supporting action to overhaul the nation's immigration laws and calling legislation pending in the Senate an "important starting point."

In a statement being released Thursday, the officials say: "Simply opposing immigration reform should not be the conservative response to this problem. We believe conservatives should be leading the way on this issue by supporting legislation that upholds conservative principles."

Signers include Fred Malek, chairman of the American Action Forum; Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith and Freedom Coalition; Paul Wolfowitz, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute; Mat Staver, president and founder of Liberty Counsel; and Lawson Bader, president of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

The statement was organized by Al Cardenas, chairman of the American Conservative Union.

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