11/23/2014

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U.S. Senator talks immigration reform in Yakima

U.S. Senator talks immigration reform in Yakima
YAKIMA, Wash. -- U.S. Senator Patty Murray's push to pass immigration reform came to Eastern Washington on Thursday. She met with those impacted by the law including leaders from the agriculture industry, business owners and students. Earlier proposals to change immigration laws have failed.

Immigration is something managers at Gilbert Orchards are following closely. Employees here would be affected directly by any change in the law. Sean Gilbert said his business is in trouble if nothing is done.

"It means we wouldn't get our crops picked," said Gilbert.

U.S Senator Patty Murray heard from people like Gilbert who want immigration reform. Murray said the current system hurts businesses, communities and the economy.

"This region, more than any I know is impacted by every part of the bill we are considering," said Murray.

Immigrants like Elizabeth Lara have seen the law work against her family. Her dad was deported about two years ago. He could only come back to the states if Congress passes immigration reform that includes a guest worker program.

"It's very devastating for my siblings and me,” said Lara. “We didn't have an opportunity to talk or see him in person. The only conversation we have with him is through webcam."

Elizabeth works in the fields and has been in the country for 12 years. A path to citizenship is something she says is vital to changing the law.

"We can just live normal lives like any U.S citizen because we already feel American, just not on paper," said Lara.

Another deadlock in Congress is the biggest threat to the latest proposal. Opponents don't think anyone who's been here illegally should be rewarded with citizenship. Though, Senator Murray seems hopeful.

"I don't see anger associated with this issue so much as the last time Congress debated it which gives me hope," said Murray.

Hope that could make some local businesses and their employees more secure.
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