Illegal Immigrants in Big Bend Await Reforms

UPDATED
by Julie Montanaro
February 1, 2013

Here is the statement released by Congressman Steve Southerland's office regarding his stance on immigration reforms:

"The Senate must act on its immigration proposal first. Once it does, Rep. Southerland will weigh the pros and cons alongside any prospective House proposals. While we need a process that brings these individuals out of the shadows, we also must recognize that border security must be enhanced and that, as a nation of laws, there are consequences when laws are not followed."


UPDATED
by Julie Montanaro
January 31, 2013

The President is pushing for immigration reforms to be complete in the next six months.

A brother and sister here in the Big Bend - whose father has been working the fields for 20 years - can hardly believe the plans unveiled on Capitol Hill this week.

Alberto and Magaly Rosalio now carry cards in their wallets that protect them from deportation and allow them to live and work in this country legally for the next two years.

"I got my actual card the 24th of December. It was a good Christmas present," Alberto Rosalio said. He says it will allow him to finish school and expand his landscaping business. "There's been a lot of things I've wanted to do. This is finally the missing puzzle piece for me."

"First thing, I got my job," Magaly Rasalio said, "and go back to school. I applied right away. Got my drivers license. I did that too."

The brother and sister were brought here from Mexico as toddlers.

They applied for "employment authorization documents" in the wake of an executive order signed by the President last summer.

"Republicans and Democrats seem ready to tackle this problem together," President Obama said earlier this week as he unveiled his immigration reform plan.

Now in the span of days, the president and a bi-partisan group of senators have outlined reforms including better border security, stronger employment verification and paths to citizenship for illegals already here.

"The Republicans lost the election last year and recognized immediately it was in large part due to their stance on immigration," immigration attorney Elizabeth Ricci said. "We do need desparately an immigration reform in this country, so whether it comes from a bi-partisan group of eight or an executive order through the president, to me it doesn't matter, as long as it happens."

"It is a little surprising," Alberto Rosalio said, "but I'm glad to see it, you know. It's a long time coming."

The Rosalio's say whatever the reason for the bi-partisan push, they are anxious to see if all the talk will really result in action for immigrants like them.

"Hopefully in the next few .. next year, next few years maybe, there will be something permanent," Magaly Rosalio said.

We reached out to Congressman Steve Southerland's office to see what the second district representative has to say about the immigration proposals. We will let you know as soon as we hear back from his staff in Washington.


Tallahassee, Florida- August 16, 2012

Children of illegal immigrants are lining up for a chance to stay in America for the next two years without fear of deportation.

Tallahassee immigration attorney Elizabeth Ricci says dozens of people have made appointments to apply in just the first two days.

An executive order went into effect Wednesday. It allows illegal immigrants who arrived in the United States before their 16th birthday ... and meet several other conditions ... to apply for what's called "deferred action."

It would allow most of them to get social security numbers, drivers licences and jobs without worrying about being deported for at least two years.

Alberto and Magaly Rosalio came to the United States as toddlers. The brother and sister born in Mexico and raised in Lafayette County applied for what's called "deferred action" the very first day.

"It's gonna...you know really give me a lot more opportunities. It's going to let me finish my schooling, go out into the work force, find a real job," Alberto Rosalio said. "This is where I want to be. This is where I grew up. We have dreams. We're Americans. We want to do the right thing."

"We didn't ask to come here. We were brought here. We were raised here and we love this country. We don't know any other country. This is our place, not Mexico," Magaly Rosalio said. Rosalio said the fear of deportation is something she's grown up with. "Every day it's a fear. You can't really feel comfortable. You never know when you're going to get stopped somewhere. It's a big fear and people don't understand we can't live in fear our whole lives."

The executive order that became effective Wednesday gives illegal immigrants who came here as children a chance to continue their schooling and get a job legally without fear of being deported for at least two years.

There's a long list of conditions. Among them: they must be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012 , they must have come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, they must have lived in the U.S. for the past five years, they must be in school, or have a high school diploma or GED, if they've served in the military they must have an honorable discharge, and have no felony convictions.

Tallahassee immigration attorney Elizabeth Ricci calls it "life changing" even if it's only temporary.

Does this in anyway make you a legal citizen? Or guarantee you can stay?

"Absolutely not, no citizenship path and no permanent path. This is a temporary program and will give a work authorization that's valid for two years and renewable in two years, but they haven't said what will happen after that," Ricci said.

Critics of this executive order say it rewards illegal immigration and isn't fair to those who go through legal channels to gain citizenship. They say it also increases the burden on taxpayer funded services.

For more information on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals process you can go to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services web site http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/uscis


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