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Anti-immigration-reform demonstrations held

December 15, 2009 7:37:52 PM PST
Some local leaders are putting their support behind a new immigration reform bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. In these economic times, not everyone is happy about the plan.Demonstrations were held across the country as new legislation legalizing illegal immigrants was introduced in congress. It comes as unemployment is high. Yet supporters, which include unions, say reform can help all workers.

"We know the political climate is tough for immigration reform," said Mike Garcia, president of SEIU Local 1877. "The reality is there's 12 million undocumented workers in the country who work hard, struggle and contribute to today's economy. They are gainfully employed."

There are 15 million people who have lost their jobs. Yet the bill provides illegal immigrants a long-term path to citizenship, forces the undocumented to pay a fine, learn English and, after six years, apply for legal permanent residence.

Twenty-five-year-old Inacio Rodrigues came to the U.S. from Chile 18 years ago. Technically she's illegal. She paid for her education and got her degree at UCLA.

"Right now my paperwork has been submitted to Immigration Services," said Rodriguez. "Unfortunately we have a broken immigration system and it's taken years to process it."

Now she wants to go to law school.

The demonstrators targeted three California members of congress who had not taken a position on reform. While they were boarding the bus, Long Beach Democrat Laura Richardson announced she will support the new bill.

They went first to Sherman Oaks Democrat Brad Sherman's office. The congressman has been on the fence. While some rallied outside the congressman's office, Sherman issued a statement that he will read the bill. He says he does support immigration reform.

In August, President Obama met with Mexican President Felipe Calderon and repeated his support for immigration reform.

"My administration will continue to work to fix America's broken immigration system," said Obama in August.

Obama wants congress to pass immigration reform next year. Even its most ardent supporters know the economy and high unemployment are major obstacles.


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