NC Latinos leery of immigration legislation
Posted June 28, 2013
Raleigh, N.C. — As the debate over immigration reform shifted to the U.S. House on Friday, some in the country illegally said they don't like the legislation approved by the Senate but aren't hopeful for anything better.
The Senate signed off Thursday on a $46 billion investment in tighter border security, including building another 350 miles of fencing, hiring more than 19,000 border patrol agents and creating an electronic system so employers could verify their workers' immigration status. The bill also would give the roughly 11 million people in the U.S. illegally "provisional immigrant" status that would allow them to become legal residents after 10 years.
"I don't even see this as an immigration reform bill. I see this as a national security bill," Viridiana Martinez said.
Martinez, 26, is among an estimated 325,000 North Carolina residents who are in the country illegally. She said waiting a decade for citizenship is too long.
"There's a lot of people in deportation proceedings right now," she said. "You have a lot of people who have been deported already, so what's going to happen to them and to reunite the families of those that are still here?"
Jose Rico's family came to the U.S. legally 10 years ago when he was 13, but they remained in the country after their visas expired.
"My parents needed to put food on the table for their children, and I feel like any parent would do that," Rico said.
Rico said that, like Martinez, he has concerns about the Senate bill.
"I'm willing to take the bill because I want my mom to have her papers one day," he said. "I'll take it, but ultimately, I don't like it."
Some Latino advocates support the Senate bill, including the North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
"The immigration system is broken. This is a good first step. This represents a boost to America's growing economy and will alleviate our members' business needs," the chamber said in a statement.
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner has said the House plans to work on its own immigration bill. He plans to meet with his fellow House Republicans in the next few weeks to go over options.
Although younger Latinos remain leery of immigration reform, they say it has given the generation before them some hope.
"It's going to help some people," Martinez said. "My family will be in line to get that. I'm not saying no."