Senators reach agreement on immigration reform - KMSP-TV

Senators reach agreement on immigration reform

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WASHINGTON (Associated Press) -

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have made the most promising move in years on overhauling the nation's immigration laws.

A bipartisan group of eight senators announced Monday that they have reached an agreement on the framework of a sweeping law. The deal includes a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in this country.

There are still a lot of details to be worked out and there's no telling if reform is certain, but this could be the start of the most significant effort in years toward immigration reform.

Mayra Sarabia chased her idea of the American dream when she was just 17 years old. She had heard stories about immigrants working hard and making good money, so she left her mother and three siblings behind in central Mexico and crossed the border into Arizona with the help of smugglers called "coyotes."

"When I was young, I heard different stories like ‘you are going to get whatever you want,' but that's not true, it's hard," Mayra says. "I'm looking for a better future for myself, opportunities that I might not have in my country."

20 years have since passed. Sarabia got married and had three children in America, while babysitting and working restaurant jobs to try to make ends meet as an undocumented worker.

"There's always a fear, especially for my kids," Mayra says. "What are they going to do if I leave?"

When a bipartisan group of senators announced it had reached an agreement on immigration reform Monday, including a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented workers, Sarabia felt hopeful for a brighter future which would also mean freely traveling back to Mexico and finally seeing her mother.

"That's one of the biggest things," Mayra comments on the path to citizenship. "I wanna hug my mother, and of course I want to go to give an example to my kids, like I can go to school."

The senators also agreed to creating an employment verification system so employers don't hire undocumented immigrants.

The president of Americans for Legal Immigration PAC told FOX 32 over the phone why he and the organizations 40,000 supporters oppose immigration reform.

"A path to citizenship would create a voting block of 9 million illegal immigrants which would prevent any future hopes for enforcement borders of the United States in future, leaving us vulnerable to next wave of 10 million illegal immigrants," Americans for Legal Immigration president says.

For Sarabia, getting the chance to become a citizen means the ability to vote and give back.

"I'm a good citizen and I have a lot to contribute to this society," Mayra insists.

The deal also includes reforming the legal immigration system and allowing more low-skill workers into the country.

Senator Chuck Schumer of New York said Monday that the group hopes to have legislation drafted by March with the goal of passing it by the Spring or Summer.

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