U.S. House Hits Immigration Debate

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    By Sheila Sarmiento

    Two immigration proposals are currently being discussed at the U.S. House of Representatives and at the White House to stop illegal immigration and help 12,000 undocumented people already in the U. S. get citizenship.

    One of the bills introduced at the beginning of April by Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., and Rep. Jeff Blake, R- Ariz., proposes to legalize all people who have been in the U. S. since July 1, 2006. This proposal includes a project to reinforce security at the Mexican borders and a plan that would give temporary residency of three to six years to illegal immigrants. At the end of the six years, they would be able to apply for permanent residence and pay $2,000-3,000 for naturalization costs.

    “You have to approach the problem realistically,” said Margaret Klessig, Blake”s chief of staff. “They have broken the law, but we have to recognize that they are here, are working and contributing to the country.”

    The other bill is being discussed at the White House and proposes to provide employment visas that would last for two or three years. Afterward, people would have to return to their own countries to apply for a U.S. permanent residence and pay approximately $10,000 for naturalization costs.

    Tony Yapias, former director of Utah”s Office of Hispanic Affairs and defendant of illegal immigrants, said the ideas proposed by both groups are a little bit extreme. He hopes both groups can compromise and find a medium acceptable for everybody.

    “The important thing here is that all are in agreement that something needs to be done,” Yapias said. “Last year that was not the case.”

    In past years, the U.S. House of Representatives have not considered any of the immigration proposals to legalize undocumented immigrants. However, Democrats now are the majority in Congress and they plan to make immigration a priority.

    “We are cautiously optimistic,” Klessig said. “The stars are aligned to get something done. We have to do it this year because next year presidential campaigns will occupy all of Congress”s attention.”

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