Citizens of Springfield, Oregon, weigh in on the immigration proposals released by the bipartisan Senate and the Republicans of the House of Representatives.
Springfield, Ore. —
Jose Magana, a self-described “undocumented immigrant” in the US, shared his story publicly this week. As a member of President Barack Obama’s nonprofit advocacy organization Organizing for Action, this began a movement towards a new kind of politics. With the new immigration reforms proposed by the bipartisan Senate and Republicans in the House of Representatives, Magana’s organization has set up a form where those living in America who are having trouble achieving citizenship can anonymously submit their stories, accurately representing a demographic that otherwise has no way to vote.
The bipartisan Senate intends to increase border security, creating a path to citizenship immediately after entering the country. They have also proposed new employment verification to prevent identity theft and end the hiring of unauthorized workers.
However, the House Republicans intend to improve visas for immigrants who graduate from US schools, and help children who were brought over the border illegally gain citizenship. They hope to encourage skilled workers to stay in the US and work during adulthood.
Glenn Myers, owner of Trash-n-Treasures Antiques & Collectibles in Springfield, Oregon, believes the two parties will continue to clash, operating on their own agendas. “All they do is fight,” Myers says, “Nobody’s going to approve anybody else’s plan because it’s not their plan.”
Jessie Riley, owner of Riley’s Second Hand, doesn’t blame the politicians. “I mean, it’s a big mess, there’s no way around it, you know.” Riley says, “I think there are countries who have better ways of handling that [immigration] … we just kind of figure it out once they all get here, you know.”
April Slater, owner of Memento Ink, sees overlaps and confusion in both proposals. “No party will actually say exactly what they’re doing, what changes they intend to make.” Slater says, “[It’s hard to] make our own assessment of what those outcomes might be.”
Napat Pattarakulrapee, a server at Therese’s Place, is an immigrant from Thailand with a green card. “It’s pretty hard for immigrants right now,” she says. “It’s very hard to become a citizen right now … it’s so expensive to come to this country. I just got a green card so my parents can visit.”
However, everyone agrees something has to be done.
“My personal feelings is if they’re going to do something like that, then they should say okay, you’ve got till the end of the year, you need to register to become a citizen,” says Myers.
Riley suggests a reversion to simpler times, proposing we bring back the Ellis Island system to easily keep track of who is here.
Slater believes everyone, no matter their nationality, has the right to the American Dream. “I will tell you this, that I believe that people absolutely should have the right to immigrate here legally because opportunities that we have available that may or may not be available where they are from.” she adds, “But I don’t think people should be given amnesty or be allowed to stay illegally.”
Myers sums it all up, saying,”I understand that it’s a monumental task, but we’ve got a monumental problem here.”