AZ Reform Groups View Senate Immigration Framework with Cautious Optimism
PHOENIX - Immigration reform must include family preservation, say Arizona advocates. Various groups reacting to a reform framework announced by eight U.S. senators, including Arizona's John McCain and Jeff Flake, say the negotiated principles represent progress.
However, Southern Arizona Congressman Raul Grijalva is concerned that the primary focus seems to be security, and says reuniting families must be a major part of the reform agenda.
"A road map to citizenship, critical. Codifying the DREAM Act as a permanent law, critical. Family unification, critical."
The path to citizenship in the senators' plan is complicated, involving background checks, taxes, and fines. Grijalva says he's troubled by a requirement to provide proof of employment to gain legal status. He says few employers will be willing to admit they've employed someone in the country illegally.
Attorney Daniel Ortega, the immediate past chairman of the National Council of La Raza, calls the Senate proposal a good step forward.
"It really looks at re-establishing our core values as a nation who welcomes immigrants, as a nation who believes in their contributions, and as a nation that cannot survive without them."
However, demonstrators at a state Capitol news conference Monday held signs reading "Not One More Deportation." 11-year-old Jose Garcia Ramirez tearfully told of his father being deported this week.
"They took my dad and they put him in a car, and when I was trying to say goodbye to him, they just pushed me away. I want Obama to please stop this and I don't want my dad to leave to Guatemala."
Maricopa County (Phoenix) Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox, co-chair of the Black-Brown Coalition of Arizona, says President Obama was re-elected with strong support from the Latino community because of his position on immigration reform.
"We will be watching, we will be having input, and we will make sure that the path to citizenship, the reunification of families and the decriminalization of the migrant community is front and center."
The Arizona groups plan a cross-country bus tour in March, ending in a "National Day of Mobilization" in Washington on April 10.