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Immigration Reform Back in the Spotlight in Reno, D.C.

March 22, 2010

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Rallies were held in Nevada, Washington, D.C., and around the nation on Sunday in an effort to get the hot-button issue of immigration reform back to center stage. Nevada Sen. Harry Reid says he is committed to getting a bipartisan bill to the floor, with White House input, as long as it protects the U.S. economy and American competitiveness.

Nevadan Francisco Rangel, adult education instructor with the immigrant support group Hermandad Mexicana, Las Vegas, says immigration law changes are long overdue.

"There hasn't been an immigration reform approved in over 20 years; the message to President Obama is that we need immigration reform now."

Veronica Federovsky, field organizer with the National Day Laborers Organizing Network, says now is the time for the nation's leaders to focus on updating both immigration laws and enforcement strategies.

"When you criminalize a person for just looking for work, you're criminalizing a mother or a father or a son whose only crime is just looking for the best for their kid - that's it."

Rangel came to the U.S. as a teenager. He says his timing was fortunate because, back then, immigrants had a greater chance of gaining citizenship.

"I was given an opportunity to adjust my status, but millions of people who have worked in the United States, respected the laws, paid their taxes and contributed to our economy haven't been given an opportunity. Those are the ones we are trying to represent."

In addition to the massive rally held in Washington, D.C., local immigrant families and their supporters rallied on the steps of the Federal Building in Reno on Sunday. Counter-demonstrations also took place by those who want stricter enforcement at the nation's borders. The events come at a time when much of the president's focus has been diverted by health care reform.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NV