The announcement of the U.S. Senate’s bipartisan plan to immigration reform was welcomed among advocacy groups in Massachusetts. A central pillar of the plan introduced by the so-called “Gang of Eight” is the Path to Citizenship, which would in part make undocumented immigrants to register with the Federal government, undergo background checks, and pay back taxes among other requirements.
The Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition, or MIRA, was has been a longtime advocate for immigration reform. Eva Millona, Executive Director of MIRA, said that the “Path to Citizenship” is a crucial step forward, and because it is being introduced by a bipartisan group of lawmakers, it will hopefully have more weight among other members of Congress.
Millona also says that the plan will fix a broken system and benefit the economy by allowing working illegal immigrants to have an option besides deportation.
Hilary Greene, Executive Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center , said that statewide, the immigration reform proposals, if enacted, would impact a sizeable chunk of the population.
For the Berkshire area, Greene said that the in addition to the several hundred illegal immigrants she estimates are living in the region, the bill will not only affect them but also their families.
Democratic Congressman Richard Neal said that he was glad to see the plan’s inclusion of a way for immigrants that obtain an advanced degree in the U.S. be able to obtain a working visa.
While the plan is being promoted by both Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, Neal says that he thinks House Republicans will not be as receptive to the bill, but he does see some potential for its survival.