Local Leaders Call Immigration Plan a ‘Breakthrough’

Immigration Reform

San Diego leaders on both sides of the immigration issue are calling the senate immigration reform plan a major breakthrough.

Under this new proposal undocumented immigrants will be given a chance to gain citizenship after they pass a criminal background check, show proof of tax payment and learn English.

Senate leaders are also pushing for a mandatory employee verification system. This allows business owners to screen the immigration status of prospective employers.

But when it comes to other parts of the proposal, like enforced border security, immigrant rights advocate Christian Ramirez says, there are pitfalls.

The Senate said this would mean boosting personnel and providing them with the latest technology.

"So adding more drones to the U.S. Mexico border adding more border patrol agents without recognizing the fact that we have huge bottlenecks at the ports of entry, it's a big issue,”said Christian Ramirez with Alliance San Diego.

Part of the plan is to also create a guest worker program. The Senate said this would meet the needs of industries like agriculture, when American workers are not available to fill these positions.

Longtime republican Raoul Lowery-Contreras says the program would be not only benefit our economy, but that it would discourage illegal immigration.

“Once the work permit situation goes into effect they won't be coming across the border, they won't be streaming across the border. The only people coming across the border at that point will be bad people,” Said Raoul Lowery-Contreras with the Café Con Leche Republicans.

President Barack Obama will discuss his own proposals for immigration reform tomorrow.

According to a White House representative the president is pleased by today's senate announcement.

Meanwhile, Senate leaders hope to have their plan turned into legislation by March, with a goal of passage by late spring or summer. 

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