What US immigration reform means for Pinoys

by Bev Llorente, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Posted at Jan 30 2013 02:57 PM | Updated as of Jan 31 2013 06:50 PM

LAS VEGAS, Nevada - "America is made up of immigrants." This is what President Barack Obama had to say during his 30-minute speech in Las Vegas on the comprehensive immigration reform that is now his top priority.

"I'm here because most Americans agree it's time to fix the system that's been broken for way too long. I'm here because business leaders, faith leaders, labor leaders, law enforcement and leaders from both parties are coming together to say that now is the time to find a better way to welcome the striving hopeful immigrants who still see America as the land of opportunity," Obama said.

Obama believes that this is a "sigh of relief" for the 11 million undocumented residents living in the United States.

He is optimistic that this will create a great economic impact for America.

"We got to fix the system. We have to make sure that every business, every worker in America is playing by the same set of rules. We have to bring the shadow economy into the light so that everybody is held accountable business for who they hire and immigrants on the right side of the law," Obama said.

President Obama's message is very clear to Pulitzer Prize winner Jose Antonio Vargas, an undocumented Filipino living in the United States who unmasked himself and is now an advocate of the Dream Act.

"I'm as Filipino as I come and I'm doing this to not just to tell the Americans but tell the Filipinos that the time to be ashamed and time to be scared is over. You cannot solve something you cannot face, that's the bottom line and we as a community we need to support each other," Vargas said.

"What he has proposed is solid. What he has proposed is thinking about everybody, the big picture, that's what we all need to look at the big pictures and see that this is change and this was voted on this year. No more debates, no more delays. Its so important that we take care of our immigrants," Rozita Lee, White House adviser, said.

Meanwhile, Nevada's US House of Representative Steven Horsford says that Congress will intimately be involved in crafting a bill that is fair and humane in the pathway to citizenship.

"As far as the timeline, it should be done this year. The President said that unless Congress acts quickly that he will put forward his own bill for an up or down vote. We are working together and I am a member of the House Homeland Security committee, which is one of the two committees that has jurisdiction over this. We deal with ICE, we deal with customs, we deal with border security and the over side of the Homeland Security Department which overseas many of this functions," Nevada Rep. Steven Horsford said.

With these immigration reform programs, the American Dream is inches closer to being attained especially for Filipinos who have been living in the shadows.