Mid-South Immigrant Advocates Hopeful for Reform

Mid-South Immigrant Advocates Hopeful for Reform

The U.S. Senate is expected to give a final vote on the bi-partisan immigration bill that will offer a pathway citizenship.
MEMPHIS, TN (localmemphis.com) - The U.S. Senate is expected to give a final vote on the bi-partisan immigration bill that will offer a pathway citizenship.

There are about 100,000 Latinos living in the Mid-South. For many of them, if this bill becomes law they'll be able to come of the shadows and be productive citizens.

In the bill, billions of dollars will go to border security. That includes building 700-miles of new fencing along the border, 200,000 new border patrol agents, and high-tech equipment to secure the Mexico-U.S. border. That's what many Republicans pushed in this bill.

There are also strict restrictions to get on the path to citizenship.

Republicans backing the bill, like Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI), says passing it will make undocumented immigrants productive legal workers in this country.

Some immigrant advocates, such as Latino Memphis and the Tennessee Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition, say many Republicans are playing politics to gain the Hispanic vote; still, passing this bill is crucial and needs to happen now, they say.

"We are very hopeful that the Senate will do the right thing and it'll move on, likewise in the House, and finally the president can sign this on and we can stop seeing the separation of families on a daily bases," said Gabriela Marquez, West TN organizer for TN Immigrant & Refugee Rights Coalition.

Latino Memphis Director Mauricio Calvo added, "It's not amnesty, we're talking about an earned pathway to citizenship. Somebody who applies today may take 10 years or 11 years, so we're not talking about a magic wand -boom - tomorrow we're going to have all these people become citizens. It's going to be a process."

The bill has to first pass the Senate and then the House before it's up to President Obama to sign it into law.

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