Reporting Pat Kessler
ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Hundreds of people rallied Wednesday at the Minnesota State Capitol, calling for changes to state and federal immigration laws.
The rally comes just hours after the Minnesota Senate passed landmark legislation granting college financial aid to children of people who are in the country illegally.
It’s one of dozens of May Day immigration rallies around the country, pressuring Congress for help.
David Bello is here for his parents and sisters.
“I am the only one with papers,” Bello said, an American citizen. “I am the only one who has the power to actually have a job.”
His father is a restaurant worker and his mother a housekeeper who he said came here to build a new life.
“Coming here might have been something bad, and illegal, but it was something that we didn’t have over there in Mexico,” Bello said.
Critics said the bill gave “special treatment” to undocumented children.
“We are going to give them extra treatment — I just don’t think that is fair,” Sen. Paul Gazelka said.
Sen. Sandra Pappas added more.
“There are very low income students that I don’t feel it is fair to treat them any differently than any other student in Minnesota,” she said.
Outside the Capitol, protesters were calling for federal action, and immigration reform that eases their fears of deportation, and allows families who came here illegally to stay here and apply for citizenship.
Congress and the President are currently negotiating an immigration reform bill.
If they do reach agreement, and that is still very uncertain, it could be the first immigration reform bill in 30 years.
Public opinion polls show a majority of Americans support immigration, but the public remains divided on how or whether to offer citizenship to people who entered the country illegally.
At the state level, there are significant barriers for undocumented workers to apply for work, seek medical treatment and go to school.