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Immigration Reformers Split on Citizenship

February 23, 2014
Plain English Version
Time Magazine

Time Magazine

Should a path to citizenship be part of any immigration reform bill? Democrats in Congress and President Obama say yes. But not everybody agrees.

Angelica Martinez is an undocumented resident of Phoenix, Arizona. Ms. Martinez said she only wants to “live legally and without fear in the U.S.”

Enrique Peña Nieto. the President of Mexico agrees with her.

They both support citizenship. But they do not think it must be a part of a reform bill. If they cannot get approval of a citizenship path, they would accept “legal status.”

An expert said, “For Peña Nieto, the highest priority is that Mexicans living in the U.S. are able to come out of the shadows and are no longer exploited… a [law] that allows Mexican citizens to become U.S. citizens is not a high priority.”

Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto

Mexican President, Enrique Peña Nieto

A survey has found that a majority of Hispanics in the U.S. support legal status. For them, living and working in the U.S. is more important than a pathway to citizenship.

Ms. Martinez’ son came to the U.S. as a child. He has legal status under the deferred-action program. He says he would not want citizenship if it were not available to his mother. He said, “An America that chooses its citizens is not an America I want to be part of.”

Many Democrats will oppose any bill that does not offer citizenship.  It may not matter if no bill comes up for a vote this year. At some time in the future, it will matter.

Citizenship gives people the right to vote. Some believe new citizens will vote for Democratic candidates. That may not be true over time. Right now, it may be a reason for some Republicans to push for legal status rather than a path to citizenship.

Source: The Arizona Republic                                                                                                                                    February 3 and February 18, 2014


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