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Know Your Rights
Source: Daily News
Subject: Immigration
Type: Media Coverage

Immigration reform is here: President Barack Obama has presented a bipartisan solution to help immigrants obtain legal status

WASHINGTON — Calling the immigration system busted, President Obama on  Tuesday urged a swift path to citizenship for 11 million illegal immigrants and  even expanded on a new bipartisan Senate plan, including letting individuals  seek visas for gay partners.

Obama told a Las Vegas crowd that the time is now for “comprehensive  immigration reform” and suggested he’d offer his own detailed plan if Congress  doesn’t move quickly enough.

His speech followed Monday’s unveiling of the Senate plan, which he praised  as evidence that “Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem  together.” But there are significant differences that hint at the nasty  legislative battles ahead over specifics.

While the Senate plan lets illegal immigrants get legal residency quickly,  it ties obtaining citizenship to both improved border security and a  verification system to be used by employers. That reflects demands by many  Republicans who fear a surge in new illegal immigration without such  provisions.

Conspicuously, Obama did not bring up that so-called “trigger” and thus  implied his disagreement. He instead focused on the need for illegal immigrants  to register with authorities, pay their taxes, pass criminal background checks  and learn English. 

“If you’re able to meet some basic criteria, we’ll offer you the chance to  come out of the shadows,” he said in backing a faster potential road to  citizenship.

The speech tracked a 29-point plan he outlined last year, including tighter  border security and being tough on employers who hire illegal immigrants. A  notable difference is allowing visa applications for same-sex partners. But the  real difference is the context, as Republicans openly concede, after Obama’s  election victory and what polls suggest is growing popular support for  change.

Those supporters include dozens who watched the speech projected on the wall  of an immigrant-rights advocacy group in Jackson Heights, Queens. For them, the  changes urged by Obama can’t come soon enough.

“He said we are undocumented but we aren’t criminals. Our dream could become  reality if we get amnesty,” said Ecuadoran immigrant Tania Gordillo, 43, who  brought three of her children to the offices of Make the Road New York.

“I was so interested when he said this wasn’t an issue about policy, but  about people,” said Nubia Capador, 51, a housecleaner formerly from Colombia who  lives in Queens Village. She has papers, but her 31-year-old son, John, does  not. 

“I would love for him to be able to feel secure, able to work, to visit our  family. This would change his life,” she said.

Vicente Mayorga, 59, who moved from Ecuador nearly two decades ago, said he  counts at least eight family members who are in the U.S. illegally. “It’s so  emotional to know that the doors are opening,” he said.

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