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Immigration Reform Bill Needed, Says NJ Latino Leader [AUDIO]

On the heels of federal lawmakers calling for immigration reform, a statewide Latino organization believes this is a step in the right direction for the some 11 million undocumented workers in America.

Mario Tama, Getty Images

Reform is being called for by a bi-partisan group of US Senators who introduced sweeping immigration reform, and more recently from the President of the United States who said he would propose his own reform bill if the House refuses to work swiftly on the matter.

The Senate bill was drafted and presented by Democrats Charles Schumer (NY), Richard Durbin (Il), Robert Menendez (NJ), Michael Bennet (CO), and Republicans Marco Rubio (FL), John McCain (AZ), Jeff Flake (AZ), and Lindsey Graham (SC). The President echoed the sentiments of the Senators in a speech in Las Vegas.

Plans Outline a Legal Path to Citizenship

Both plans call for a legal path to citizenship, cracking down on the hiring of undocumented workers, and border enforcement.

The group of senators hope to have legislation drafted by March, and a vote before the August recess.

Martin Perez Esq, President of the Latino Leadership Alliance, says what makes this legislation important is the support it’s getting from both sides of the aisle in the Senate as well as the President.

“For the first time in many years two branches of the government in agreement that we have to put forward an immigration reform bill.”

Perez notes that in the past election, both parties realized the large Latino population within the United States, which he believes further sparked the creation of the proposed legislation.

“Both parties have agreed that they have to come with a bill that has to be comprehensive and has to offer a path to citizenship which is critical.”

However, Perez points out this isn’t simply an issue of politics. He says the Latino community has views on both sides of the aisle; however the importance of the community isn’t limited to its influence as a voting block.

“But also in the economy, we are opening businesses everyday. We have a trillion dollars in purchasing power and we are making contributions to society.”

While not favoring “amnesty”, Perez believes many of these undocumented residents, who form the foundation of the workforce in the country, are already productive and contributing citizens.

“As soon as people are contributing and they are not involved in crime, they should have the opportunity to become citizens in the same way people from other citizens had that opportunity.”

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