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Panel Pushes for Lehigh Valley Support on Immigration Reform

Bill before U.S. Senate would make it easier to get citizenship, but tougher to cross U.S. borders.

Undocumented young people rally for the Dream Act, an earlier version of immigration reform legislation, in 2011.
Undocumented young people rally for the Dream Act, an earlier version of immigration reform legislation, in 2011.
The Lehigh Valley is pretty evenly divided on immigration reform, according to immigration attorney Jose Campos.

One thing most of us have in common: nearly everyone can trace their roots to an immigrant.

"Before we were us, we were 'them,'" Campos said Monday night, speaking at a panel discussion at the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University in Bethlehem.

The event, put together by the group Organizing for Action (OFA)-Lehigh Valley, was timed in advance of the Senate's immigration reform vote, expected to come later this week.

The audience watched a short film—The Dream is Now, from An Inconvenient Truth director Davis Gugghenheim—that followed a group of young people whose lives were essentially on hold due to citizenship limbo.

The bill before the Senate would streamline the citizenship process, while also holding undocumented immigrants accountable before they could get citizenship.
 
It's also aimed at cracking down on companies that hire undocumented workers and adding more security to the borders. 

The border security component of the bill was added by Republican Senators  Bob Corker of Tennessee and John Hoeven of North Dakota, and helped bring more Republican backing to the legislation.   

While the bill has bipartisan support, panelist Kevin Santos argued it no longer makes political sense not to support this kind of reform, given the nation's growing Latino population.

"You cannot gain any sort of voter base when you are consistently beating up their family members on immigration," Santos said. "It doesn’t get any clearer than that."

Panelists also say the bill will help the economy. Campos pointed to a Congressional Budget Office report that says the bill would cut the deficit by close to $1 trillion over the following ten years.

Santos said the bill will make it a lot tougher for people who re-enter the country illegally. He noted that one of his clients holds the record for fastest re-entry: 13 minutes. 

But it will also help hard-working, law-abiding immigrants who “disappeared into the fabric of America" and just want citizenship.

 “There’s no dog barking. The police have never been there," Santos said. "And you’ve probably shaken hands with them and maybe clinked cups of coffee with them in the morning.”

 

Ervin Kistler June 26, 2013 at 08:56 AM
Mr. Campos, There is a BIG difference when my ancestors came to the USA then when yours came over. Mine did it the way the program was intended. Come in legally and adapt to the USA, not the other way around, illegally and the country adapt to you. I live in a town north of the Lehigh Valley with at least 10 different ethnic groups and every one of them adapted to the USA. Even when we had Vietnamese families come into this country they did it legally and adapted to the USA. So way should certain groups be given special considerations ?
John June 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM
"You cannot gain any sort of voter base when you are consistently beating up their family members on immigration," Santos said. "It doesn’t get any clearer than that." EXACTLY! Its NOT about doing the RIGHT THING, it's about POLITICS and GETTING RE-ELECTED! Sometimes these clowns need to shut their mouth and listen to what THEY are saying! CHANGE has destroyed this country, neighbor vs. neighbor, family vs. family.....all for what? Politicians making deals so present illegals will vote for them?? DO THE RIGHT THING FOR THE COUNTRY, not the politically right thing that continues to separate us even further!
rick troxell June 26, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Do what our ancestors did. Enter legally and become a productive part of America and believe in and support America. It's not about who you are, it"s more about what you have done and now expect. You have broken the law and now want it to be changed and special exceptions given.

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