As a bipartisan group of U.S. senators released more details Monday about their plan for overhauling the nations immigration laws, individuals on both sides of the debate in North Carolina offered mixed reviews.
Lacey Williams, the youth program manager for the Charlotte-based Latin American Coalition, said she was cautiously optimistic about the proposal.
Its not quite far reaching enough, she said. But it is nice to see people of different political backgrounds coming together and actually doing something.
But Williams said she was concerned about a continued focus on securing the border and the stipulation that until it was secure, illegal immigrants would not be provided a path to citizenship.
On the other side, Fern Shubert, a Republican who helped create the Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, said regardless of the enforcement promises, the proposals overarching theme is that its OK to break the law.
When you say the law does not apply to everyone and people who choose not to follow the law get preferential treatment I think were headed in the wrong direction, she said.
Bill Gheen, spokesman for ALIPAC, called the Republican senators who put their names on the framework traitors.
Gheen described the enforcement promises in the proposal as sugar on a poison pill and added that he intends to fight any legislation that comes from the proposal.
Any person in this country that believes their promise to enforce immigration later in exchange for amnesty today is an idiot, he said. Republican U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry, of Cherryville, didnt like the way the eight came up with the plan. He said hed reserve judgment but said immigration reform must start with securing the nations borders.
This kind of backroom dealmaking has been tried by a small group of senators in the past, he said.
Other lawmakers from North Carolina were more open to the proposal. Freshman U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, said the proposal would jump-start debate.
Reforming our broken and inefficient immigration system is necessary for economic growth and a secure homeland, Hudson said.
He said the plan would need to strengthen the nations borders and ensure undocumented immigrants do not get public benefits.
Hudson said any comprehensive plan should make sure that immigrants whose work is needed, particularly in agriculture, can work in the United States. But he said he wouldnt support a plan that put illegal immigrants in line ahead of those who entered legally.
David Ward, a spokesman for U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican, said Burr has long said that we need to reform our nations immigration laws, but the proposal outlined today is just that a proposal.
Sen. Kay Hagan, a Democrat, said shes pleased that Democrats and Republicans had worked together.
Selene Medina, an 18-year-old freshman at Johnson C. Smith University and undocumented immigrant, said she thought the framework was a step in the right direction but that more could be done.
Medina, whose family immigrated from Mexico in 2000, would qualify for special consideration for a separate and speedier pathway to full citizenship. But she said she has moral issues with the framework singling out young people and agricultural workers.
I think its important that we realize that were not trying to put someone above everyone else, because everyone has been contributing to this country, she said.
Arriero: 704-777-7070; Twitter: @earriero
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