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MN Immigrants Urge Lawmakers to Support Immigration Reform Bill

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS) Edgar Linares
Edgar Linares moved to the Twin Cities 24 hours before the largest...
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis resident, Gloria Castillo, 22, says for the last 10 years she’s lived under a constant fear of deportation. Now, she says there’s light at the end of the tunnel with the introduction of a bipartisan immigration reform bill.

“Ten years without seeing my father, without having the chance to meet my little brother,” Castillo said. “Is it human to be afraid all the time? When you go out shopping, when you drive just to get your children from school?”

On Tuesday, the so-called “Gang of Eight” U.S. Senators finally unveiled the wraps off the immigration reform plan. The bill is 844 pages and it goes beyond the legalization program.

“It really goes into all areas of immigration law,” said Michele Garnett McKenzie, advocacy director of Advocacy for Human Rights. “Including employment based immigration, family based immigration… the asylum program. So, there are many, many impacts that we may be seeing as we get a chance to go through the bill.”

NewsRadio 830 WCCO’s Edgar Linares Reports

The Washington Post says the bill would allow undocumented immigrants — who arrived before December 31, 2011, haven’t committed a felony, or three misdemeanors, hold a job, pay a $500 fine and all back income taxes — a shot at becoming a U.S. Citizen. The program takes nearly 13 years to complete.

Among other provisions, the bill would require the Department of Homeland Security to put together two plans to increase fencing and reduce traffic over the borders.

It’s estimated the U.S. population of illegal immigrants is 11 million.

“The estimate from the State Demographers Office is that there’s a range of anywhere from 60,000 to 85,000 who are undocumented in Minnesota,” said John Keller, executive director of the Immigration Law Center of Minnesota.

President Barack Obama has been briefed on the bill by Republican and Democratic members of the “Gang of Eight.” In 2007, President George W. Bush supported the immigration reform plan.

“Very important thing to remember both in Minnesota and nationwide is that well over 60 percent of the people who are undocumented have been in the United States for well over 10 years or more,” said Keller. “They are here, they’re working, they’re contributing and this is the opportunity for the state and the country to welcome them officially.”

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