Immigration Reform Discussion Heats Up In Rockford

- ROCKFORD - There are an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the U.S. and here in Rockford, a debate raged on Friday about whether steps should be taken to grant them legal status. The proposed federal immigration reform could include a pathway to citizenship for millions of illegal immigrants, and with a large Latino immigrant community in the Stateline locals talked about the risks and the benefits it could have on our area.  “I think that we can make a difference, and that is proof that the immigration system works.” Said Rockford Pastor Enrique Gonzalez, who also immigrated to the United States

It’s been over twenty years since the U.S. passed immigration reform and with such outdated laws many believe its time to fix the broken system. Ben Taylor, from the Illinois Chamber of Commerce said it is time to change that.  “We don’t know where these people are coming from and they want to get right with the law, we want to know where they are, and our employers need the talent to fill their open positions.”

At Veteran’s Memorial Hall in downtown Rockford, many Latino immigrants attending said they play a large part in the local economy. “It is important for the legislators to hear that we need this immigration reform.” Said Pastor Gonzalez

12 million illegal immigrants live in the United States, and most of them work in agriculture. “It is a world organization now; we have got to get over the fact that we are just the ‘United States’. There are workers available in these other countries, because they don’t have the opportunity to better themselves, or make money.” said Harry Alten, a third generation farmer out of Harvard Illinois. He and his family have had migrant workers on his farm since 1956, and said it was next to impossible to get locals to work his fields.

“We have had ads in papers, I have gone to job services, and the people they send out, first of all they do not last that long, and then if they last a week, they just complain and complain and complain.” Said Alten

Some said that immigrants are taking over jobs that Americans need.
David Hale of the Rockford Tea Party said illegal’s are a drain on the nation's economy. “In the state of Illinois there was between three and four billion dollars that has already been spent to take care of illegal foreign nationalists.”

But Taylor said according to government documents, that information is just not true. “They are not drawing any of the benefits, they are already largely paying taxes and they are already very entrepreneurial.”

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