21 Aug 2014
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"We Would Finally Come Out Of The Darkness," Day Laborers Say

Workers in Baldwin Park react to the discussions of possible immigration reform.

"We Would Finally Come Out Of The Darkness," Day Laborers Say "We Would Finally Come Out Of The Darkness," Day Laborers Say

The news that immigration reform could pass this year reached Jose Vazquez, a Mexican immigrant who has spent 17 years in this country, while he waited for jobs in the Home Depot parking lot in Baldwin Park, along with a dozen other day laborers.

"If that is true, we would finally come out of the darkness where we have been for years," said the father of three children, all of whom were born in this country. "We would feel we are free at last, we could work without problems," he added.

Like Vazquez, more than 11 million undocumented people in the country see the bipartisan proposal presented by 8 senators, as well as President Obama's speech on immigration reform, as a light at the end of a tunnel that has stretched for too long.

Democratic and Republican senators unveiled on Monday a bipartisan immigration reform plan, which, if approved by Congress, would give undocumented immigrants the possibility of legalization.

"We can have licenses and no longer have our cars taken away," added Jose Osorio, another laborer from Atitlán, Guatemala, who joined the conversation. "We'll have to wait and see what the requirements are," he added.

"I have a clean record; I would apply for the reform if it passes", said Juan R., another laborer who didn't want to give his last name.

In addition to the Senate proposal, others think the words of President Obama in Las Vegas show there is an opportunity to finally see a change in immigration laws.

"I’m here today because the time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform," Obama said during his speech in Las Vegas. "Now’s the time. Now’s the time.," the president repeated four times.

Something that a resident of Baldwin Park sees as essential: Now is the time.

"That's why he was elected by Latinos," said Severina Harrod, a Mexican immigrant who, along with her ​​husband Dave Harrod, brings food and coffee every morning to the day laborers at the shopping center where the Home Depot is located. "Now we have to see if they let him do it," she added.

She and Dave met while he was studying Spanish in Guadalajara, Mexico. Dave says that it is time for Americans to understand the need to reform the immigration system.

"Immigration reform could distinguish between those who are here to work and those who are here to commit crimes," said Harrod. "Most of these people come just to work."

Others like Francisco O., who also declined to give his last name, believe it will be difficult for many immigrants to pay the fines and costs of the proceedings, when it is already difficult for them to pay rent.

"We will have to see, because there is barely enough for rent, and no work", he outlined. "But many have paid thousands of dollars to come, and in the end I think it will be worth the effort."

According to Obama's speech, the discussions for immigration reform should not take too long, and if delayed, he would send a proposal for early voting to Congress .

Included among the common points between the senators and the President are giving legal status to 11 million undocumented immigrants, with a path to citizenship, but provided that they are put behind those currently waiting to migrate legally. 

The reforms would also include increased border security, creating a national verification system for employees, and improvements to the national entry system for immigrants, among others.

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