Proposed immigration reform stirs local debate
Updated On: Jan 29 2013 05:44:16 PM CST
The debate over immigration reform is off and running here in Berks County.
President Barack Obama traveled to Las Vegas on Tuesday, where he discussed fixing what he called America's "broken" immigration laws.
Mr. Obama applauded a bipartisanship plan that was the talk of Capitol Hill on Monday.
In Las Vegas, Mr. Obama said his plan would pave the way for as many as 11 million undocumented immigrants to become American citizens.
"It's about time. Many of us including myself and many advocates, have been at this since 2006," said Angel Figueroa, supporter of immigration reform.
In 2006, 6,000 people marched along Penn Street in Reading to raise awareness that immigration reform is necessary.
"Just start with Berks County. If they were to consider this idea of sending back "x" amount of people, Walmarts would go under. Many employers would lose great employees. They are people that have hearts and children. So for me, the fact that they're not documented through the proper process should be filtered out," said Figueroa.
The process to legally become a U.S. citizen, said Figueroa, takes several years and is expensive for many undocumented immigrants. That is why many people, Figueroa said, are, "living in the shadows."
Berks County Patriots chairman Jim Billman called it something else.
"They broke the law. If we break the law, there's penalties, not rewards. I'm not against people coming here legally. We're the land of opportunity," said Billman.
Billman said he fears that the country cannot financially afford to help millions of undocumented immigrants because the country's own financial stability is not secure right now.
"I do have a problem when it's the taxpayers burden and we're over-burdened. We're over-burdened to the point where we can't support ourselves now," said Billman.
If Congress does not act on immigration soon, President Obama said he would propose a bill and "insist they vote on it."
Copyright 2013 WFMZ. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Police: Deaths of 2 men inside car a murder-suicide
1 dead in police-involved shooting in Northampton County
Restaurant owners distraught over plans to condemn property
Foul language may stop plans to rename ASD football field for Andre Reed
Elderly woman struck by car in parking lot, killed
Family makes plea for help to save their puppy
Thousands of dollars raised for man repeatedly mistaken for Eric Frein
Did Eric Frein drive away?
Hazing allegations cancel football season at CB West HS
Tractor trailer accident stops traffic on Route 422