San Diego immigration advocates excited, but concerned

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SAN DIEGO – In what has been a less than cooperative Congress, comes a breakthrough on one of the most divisive issues, immigration reform.

“We believe this will be the year congress finally gets it done,” said Sen. Charles Schumer, (D) New York.

In a bipartisan effort, a Senate committee announced Monday the blue print for immigration reform that provides a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the US, including 250,000 in San Diego County.

“It’s unprecedented to see this type of compromise,” said immigrant rights advocate with Alliance San Diego, Andrea Guerrero.

Screen Shot 2013-01-28 at 10.08.07 PMSenators say it won’t be an easy path to citizenship, “they’ll have to go through a criminal background check, they’ll have to pay any taxes that have gone unpaid,” said Sen. Robert Menendez, (D) New Jersey.

Under the plan, green cards would be given to immigrants obtaining advanced degrees in math, technology and engineering.

And employers would be required to use employment verification systems.

Employers will also be allowed to hire immigrant workers, as long as they can prove inability to recruit US citizens.

But while its being called a major breakthrough, the preliminary move is already under fire.

Many believe providing a pathway to citizenship for those who are in the country illegally equals amnesty, which many republicans and the house, including Congressman Duncan Hunter from San Diego, said they won’t support.

The plan is also contingent on raising security at the border, something local human rights advocates say is concerning.

“We should be concerned when there are more enforcement agents patrolling our neighborhoods,” said Guerrero, “we should be concerned when there are drones flying over our houses.”

This bipartisan committee stated it has the votes to pass a comprehensive immigration reform bill in the Senate and that it hopes to vote on it, late this spring.

Tuesday, President Barack Obama will be in Las Vegas, Nevada, unveiling the details of his plan to reform the nation’s immigration system.

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