Activists voice concerns over immigration reform

Monday, April 08, 2013

The debate over immigration reform is front and center once again. A group of senators on both sides of the aisle is expected to unveil details of a compromise this week.

It's expected to include an earned path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants and a focus on border security. Houstonians are already weighing in.

Immigration reform is a complex issue and among Houston's diverse immigration community there are different opinions on what should be included in a comprehensive immigration plan. Among a group of immigration reform activists out protesting on Monday, Cesar Espinoza has more at stake than most.

"I am an undocumented immigrant in the United States," Espinoza said. "My parents brought me here at a very young age, search of a better life, the American dream."

The complexities and quirks in the current immigration system mean the 27-year-old has no official papers, even though his parents and several siblings have become citizens. That's why he and others are planning a Wednesday march, in part to try to convince Texas senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn to support a pathway to citizenship.

Immigration activist Maria Mela Acuna said, "We are hopeful that immigration reform will have a pathway to citizenship."

Across town, members of Houston's Asian American community and two members of congress voiced their own concerns that immigration reform might actually reduce the number of family reunification visas currently available.

"We must continue to have a strong family reunification policy," Rep. Al Green stressed.

They pointed out many Asian families must wait for decades for relatives to get US visas. As for Cesar, he would love to see his grandparents someday.

"I haven't seen my grandparents since I came here," he said.

We tried to contact Senator Cruz's office Monday but didn't receive a response by late afternoon. But a bi-partisan group of senators are expected to release their plan later this week and a lot of people will be watching.

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