Savannah residents react to proposed immigration reform - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Friends, neighbors react to proposed immigration reform

Rosalia Bulloch Rosalia Bulloch

President Obama wrapped up a speech this afternoon outlining the bipartisan proposal to grant amnesty to illegal immigrants and have them earn their citizenship. 

Some leaders have argued the borders should be secured before 11 million people are allowed to begin the proposed 13 year citizenship process, which includes eight years living in the country to become permanent citizens and learning English. Five years later, they can apply to become citizens.

While some argue adding more citizens when there are not enough jobs already is not a good idea. Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials executive director Jerry Gonzalez disagrees.

Gonzalez told WTOC Tuesday, just minutes after the President spoke, Georgia, and south Georgia specifically, should be able to handle the numbers.

"The economy is a big issue. The bottom line is if you talk to people particularly in south Georgia, in the agricultural industry, there are plenty of jobs available and not enough people to take some of those jobs," Gonzalez told WTOC. "We need to recognize we need to adjust our visas, our legal visas, according to our economic needs."

The immigration issue has long put friends and neighbors at odds. While not everyone is thrilled with the proposed plan, the reform has gotten more support early on than past attempts.

"It's about time. The people who work hard deserve it," Rosalia Bulloch told WTOC.

Bulloch came to Georgia nine years ago from Panama and now works for la Voz Latina, a community newspaper in Savannah, along with the editor, John Newton. 

"Long overdue, yeah, that's putting it mildly," Newton told WTOC about the reform plan.

Newton's followed the immigration reform issue since long before the paper debuted 11 years ago.

Both of them are on board with amnesty for illegals already here and the citizenship process.

"The terms of the immigration reform require them to get at the back of the line. They have to pay back fines and back taxes and get criminal background checks," Newton said.

Just a few doors down from the la Voz Latina in the Tell and Sell Shopping Plaza is Mike's Barber Shop. Owner Mike Reddish knows his opinion won't be popular in the heavily Hispanic areas, including with his neighbors.

"I don't really like it, but it would be alright if there were jobs over here, but we don't have jobs for the people here," said Reddish. "I just don't see their logic in it."

"We know it will be a positive benefit to our country," Newton said.

They all agree the immigration reform wait may be closer to ending than ever before.

"The people who voted for President Obama have been waiting for this a long time," Bulloch said.

Another issue is the securing of borders once the process of naturalization begins. However, according to GALEO, the borders may be more secure than ever with President Obama deporting more illegal immigrants than both Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton combined.

The debate over the immigration reform may be smoother, but it's not over yet.

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