Erika Andiola: Our families can no longer be separated.
Jessica: Erika Andiola is a well-known immigration rights activist in Arizona. She illegally crossed the border from Mexico with her family when she was just 11 years old.
Erika: It would definitely be a dream come true if I was to become a citizen.
Jessica: Erika’s dream may come true very soon. Eight senators, four Republicans and four Democrats, revealed their bipartisan plan for immigration reform yesterday. To satisfy Republicans, the deal includes tougher border enforcement and a crackdown on employers who hire illegal immigrants. To satisfy the Democrats, a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants, like Erika, already living in the United States. It would require those who have no serious criminal background to register with the government, pay a fine and back taxes and learn English
This is the first attempt by Congress to overhaul the nation’s immigration laws since 2007. That is when Senate Republicans helped defeat a bill supported by then President George W. Bush.
In the 2004 election, President Bush won 44% of the Hispanic vote. In the most recent election, the Republican candidate Mitt Romney won just 27%.
Hispanics are the fastest growing minority group in the country, and many Republicans say their party needs to address illegal immigration to win over Hispanic voters. Yet Hispanics also criticize President Obama for not making immigration reform a priority during his first term. In fact, under President Obama a record number of undocumented immigrants have been deported – forced to leave the United States. More than 400,000 last year alone.
Recently, federal agents took Erika’s mother and brother from their home to be deported. Erika jumped into activist mode and posted this YouTube video.
Erika: We need to stop separating families. This is real! This is so real!
Jessica: Her words spread on Twitter and Facebook. Erika even got members of Congress to call immigration authorities. Her brother and mother were released within 24 hours.
Erika is now getting a chance to hear President Obama’s vision for immigration reform. He is in Las Vegas today outlining his own plan.
Erika: Give us a chance to be in the country, to give back to the country. I think a lot of us have a lot to contribute.
Jessica: Jessica Kumari, Channel One News.