EL PASO (KDBC) — Immigration reform is getting closer to become a reality and its effects could impact El Paso, the journey however won’t be easy since the bill is facing multiple challenges, local organizations who seek immigration reform are worried about the bill’s direction, and while high profile conservatives strongly oppose it, immigrants want their voice to be heard.
Gabriela Castañeda migrated to the U.S. When she was only 15 years old, her life and story is only one of 11 million undocumented immigrants.
“it’s been very tough because you feel like you’re in jail you can’t do anything, you can’t travel, you can’t find a job very easy actually I started cleaning yards for my neighbors so that I could to be able to buy food for my children” Castañeda said.
Last week the senate passed a bill that would give immigrants a pathway to citizenship; an agreement however won’t be easy in the house.
“we need comprehensive immigration reform, but it needs to be humane, rational, and it needs to be fiscally responsible we can do that, but we have to set our minds to it and make sure that we don’t allow measures that maybe politically popular and may play myths about Mexico and the border” added congressman Beto O’Rourke.
In addition the congressman and organizations like Border Network for Human Rights oppose a controversial amendment implemented by the senate that would increase spending to 46 billion dollars to reinforce border security by the use of technology, fencing and doubling the number of border patrol agents.
“more walls, more fences, more drones, this is very questionable so I think the border network for human rights is rejecting in the strongest terms this idea of militarization of our communities” BNHR Executive Director Fernando Garcia said.
“Do we want our border with Mexico to resemble the border between west and east berlin during the cold war or the border between Israel and Palestine today or do we want the border to reflect the fact that Mexico is our second largest trading partner” O’Rourke added.
Gabriela’s optimism and courage is still alive even though her family’s been separated for the last six years.
“my biggest dream is to finally be legalized so I can visit my husband he lives in Juarez and I haven’t seen him for six years, he’s living over there I just send my children so they can you know see each other, hug but I can’t see him that’s my biggest dream” Castañeda concluded.
If this bill is approved undocumented immigrants would have to wait 13 years to become citizens, republicans in the house have said they have no plans of taking this bill but will work on their own legislation which would probably block the senate’s bill and offer a pathway of legal standing instead of citizenship similar to green cards.
According to Congressman O’Rourke the conservative estimate is that immigrants will help reduce the deficit in this country by 197 billion dollars for the next ten years.