Mid-Michigan Hispanic community reacts to immigration reform - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Mid-Michigan Hispanic community reacts to proposed immigration reform

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(01/28/13) - The Mid-Michigan Hispanic community sees immigration reform as a step in the right direction. Many of them believe there needs to be a sweeping overhaul of the nation's immigration system.

"It's a long time coming," said Sixto Olivo, past chair of the Hispanic Tech Center in Flint.

"It's very, very frustrating," added Ryan Guerra, also of the Hispanic Tech Center.

That sums up the thoughts about federal reform that could make it easier for foreigners to come to the United States legally to work or join their families. A bipartisan group of senators has agreed in principal to the changes.

Olivo, a Hispanic community leader in the Flint area, says the reforms didn't gain much traction until Washington realized the political clout of Latinos.

"It didn't become anything we wanted to solve until it was an issue that became important to both parties," Olivo said.

"It's just going to stimulate the economy. I think that's a plus," Guerra said.

The reforms would create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already here. And it would allow more low-skilled workers into the country by establishing an agricultural worker program.

"The Latino-Hispanic community is very hard working. They're the ones that are working the 14 hour, 15 hour days because that's what they have to do," Guerra said.

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Guerra says many of them could contribute more to society if they had proper documentation.

"They can get a work permits but they can't get a driver's license. They have to settle for doing migrant work. It's hard on a lot of families," he said.

Another provision of the reform package would make it more difficult for employers to exploit illegal immigrants.

"Corporate America has always known that many of these people were illegal immigrants but they were a cheap source of labor," Olivo said.

The proposed reforms also call for better border security.

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