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Proposed bill raises immigration reform questions in Florida and nationally


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Eight U.S. senators, including Florida senator Marco Rubio, proposed a nonpartisan bill on immigration reform Tuesday that would help secure the border, allow more guest workers, require tougher verification measures by employers and create a path to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants already in the country.

Dr. Eric Castillo, national outreach chair of Campaign for an American DREAM, said the bill would allow younger people to achieve citizenship and remain in the United States to attend college and look for jobs, which would generate income for themselves as well as the national and Florida economies.

“It would boost and bolster our economy significantly by billions of dollars each year, allowing them access to colleges and universities across the country and pay in-state tuition and get student federal aid, but also bolster the amount of education that increased our ranking in the entire world,” Castillo said.

While the nonpartisan bill would help increase the number of visas available to high-skilled immigrant workers, Castillo said the bill doesn’t necessarily consider the human aspect of immigration and instead focuses primarily on the legal implications of deportations.

Richard MacMaster, a member of Immigration through the Lens of Faith, also acknowledged the importance of focusing on undocumented individuals and families in the United States. He said many families have been split up if one member was found without documentation and deported.

“A woman, who had several children and had been living here in Gainesville for a number of years, went back to her native country for medical treatment and then expected she’d just take the plane home again,” MacMaster said. “She had a house. She had children. They said, ‘sorry, you can’t come back.'”

MacMaster predicts that the bill will be presented around August, and both he and Castillo are hopeful that Obama’s plans for immigration reform and the nonpartisan bill will help secure the border, as well as provide a clear path to U.S. citizenship for undocumented immigrants, helping families to stay together.

Laura Foreman wrote this story online.

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