Local Reaction to Immigration Reform Bill

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

HARRISONBURG -- Immigration reform is one step closer to getting passed. The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a reform bill Tuesday night. Now that bill heads to the Senate.

The big question is if the bill will even get out of the Senate. If it does, it may be unlikely the House of Representative agrees on the same bill. There has to be some compromise in order for any reform to happen.

Isabel Castillo has been waiting for a long time waiting to become an American citizen.

“It's like we won the battle, but we haven't won the war," said Castillo.

The bill approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee would create a visa system for low and high skilled workers, tighten border security, tighten workplace enforcement and give a path to citizenship to 11 million undocumented immigrants.

Still, Castillo would have to wait 13 years to become a citizen.

"I think for those who have been here so many years, it is quite a number of years to be waiting. We just hope it doesn't get worse," said Castillo.

Dr. Bob Roberts, a James Madison University political science professor, said it could get worse. He said the House of Representatives want the borders closed before legalization begins.

"It will have to come out the House Judiciary committee and that's heavily controlled by Republicans. Not clear if it can get out of there because there is a lot of opposition in the House for legalization," said Dr. Roberts.

Representative Bob Goodlatte compared the bill to President Ronald Reagan's Immigration Reform and Control Act. It had the same goals as the current bill that now heads to the Senate.

In his opening statement at a hearing Representative Goodlatte said, "While I commend the Senate for their continuing efforts to tackle the extremely difficult task of reforming our broken system, I must observe that S. 7-44 repeats many of the mistakes of the past."

Dr. Roberts said if some Republicans get enough pressure from their constituents, they may even agree to set it up for a vote, but this discussion could take up to a year.

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