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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Immigration reform prompts student action

 
 

The U.S. Senate’s bipartisan “Gang of Eight” senators plan to announce a deal regarding Comprehensive Immigration Reform by Tuesday. The Texas A&M Council for Minority Student Affairs, CMSA, spoke out Sunday in an effort to promote responsible immigration reform.
The Senate bill is expected to include enhanced border security, tougher penalties against employers who hire illegal workers, a guest worker program and a path to legal residency and citizenship for the 12 million workers who have previously entered the country illegally.
On Sunday at Simpson Drill Field, CMSA met to issue a statement as to what members believe should be included in the reforms. It also served as a forum to allow community members to share stories on what it means to be undocumented and an opportunity to create a visual representation of their beliefs by spelling out “CIR13,” for Comprehensive Immigration Reform 2013, with student bodies.
Eva Rivera, who spoke at the event, left Honduras for America with her daughter to escape the dangerous environment and an abusive father.
“I did not come to America to have a better life, but to save my children,” Rivera said. “There is no reason to not support Immigration Reform. We did not come here to steal, destroy or cause problems.”
Jose Luis Zelaya – Riviera’s son, a graduate student in education and student senator – later followed on land in a 45-day journey. Zelaya said he credits his mother for his success.
“I faced the dangers of Honduras, which has the highest crime rate in the world,” Zelaya said. “I have been shot and stabbed. It was very tough but now I am a graduate student and it is because of my mother.”
CMSA said personal stories “humanize” the issue and change negative stigmas.
Jacob Cobb, vice president of CMSA, said a bill that would permanently and responsibly address the issue of the millions of undocumented immigrants is needed.
“I am hoping for something permanent,” Cobb said. “Piecemeal legislation is fine, but the movement will continue until there is a permanent solution.”
Nancy Contreras, senior marketing major and CMSA member, came to Texas illegally from Mexico when she was three years old with her mother.
“The whole undocumented status did not hit me until I entered high school and people started getting drivers licenses and permits,” Contreras said. “I realized I wouldn’t be able to have that.”
Contreras said she received social abuse due to her citizenship status. She was once pulled over without a license and was verbally threatened by the officer, but she said these challenges have given her a new determination.
“When you don’t have something in your life, you work even harder to get it,” Contreras said. “All of my life I did not have a social [security number] or driver’s license and I believe had I acquired those things early on like everyone else, I would not be where I am today at Texas A&M. I would not have been so determined or passionate about coming to a four-year university because I would have had it all and I haven’t worked so hard for nothing.”
Some bill opponents fear the economic cost of such an act, as well as a shortage of American jobs.
U.S. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida has begun a public campaign to win over conservative support for overhauling immigration laws.
“What we have in place today, the status quo is horrible for America,” Rubio said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The only people benefiting from the status quo in immigration today are the people trafficking human beings across the border, and the people who are hiring illegal labor for cheap purposes.”

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