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Immigration legislation worries area residents who have gained citizenship

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Posted: Friday, March 31, 2006 10:00 pm

Maria Ochoa crossed the border illegally, worked in a clothing factory and dodged immigration agents until she was granted U.S. citizenship in 1996. Lilia Neira also crossed the border without documentation and worked in restaurants and fields until gaining citizenship through her husband in 1991. Both women came to the United States in search of a better life than their native Mexico afforded. And both found it.

Yet now the two women fear that some of the immigration reform bills being debated in Congress could disrupt the social framework of families living here illegally, while other measures might keep low-paid illegal workers from ever attaining the American dream.

Both women decried a proposal that would make it a felony to be an illegal alien.

"Even though they don't have legal residency, they're still humans," Ochoa said.

Neira said the bill, passage of which remains dubious, would force illegal immigrants underground and jeopardize their access to basic social services, such as medical care.

"It doesn't make sense. It's going to create more problems," she said.

A temporary guest worker plan tailored to undocumented laborers in the agricultural industry would be beneficial to those workers, the women agreed. But such a plan would cap the achievement of other illegal workers in restaurants, construction and other professions that would not receive temporary status.

One proposal that would require illegal aliens to pay a fine to gain citizenship would create a financial hardship on families already living near or below the poverty line, Ochoa said.

Both women favored immigration policies that would grant amnesty to illegal workers who keep their jobs and pay taxes.

Lilia Neira shares her immigration story Friday and the dream that brought her here. Neira has gone from a field worker to a Realtor. (Jennifer M. Howell/News-Sentinel)

"I want all Mexicans, people from South America to have the same opportunity I did," Neira said. "That's my dream."

Contact reporter Jake Armstrong at jakea@lodinews.com.

First published: Saturday, April 1, 2006

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  • posted at 3:33 am on Wed, Apr 5, 2006.


    You're right, Leonard just likes to disagree with everyone. He'll find a way to argue everyone's point...

  • posted at 6:08 pm on Tue, Apr 4, 2006.


    Leonard: I am just curious..you spend alot of time posting..do you work? Because I know you're going to make an issue out of it, I'll just tell you..yes, I work for a branch of law enforcement..part time..

  • posted at 1:49 pm on Sun, Apr 2, 2006.


    As opposed to all the white people who have been mooching off the state for decades. Not to mention the leeches who are rolling in all the money they got from corporate welfare. Illegal immigrants are scapegoats, straight up simple and plain.

  • posted at 3:09 am on Sun, Apr 2, 2006.


    don't come here illegally and you won't get deported. come here legally and we welcome you with open arms and provide you with aid. if you don't like the way we take care of things, go to some other country illegally and see how you like it there.

  • posted at 3:07 am on Sun, Apr 2, 2006.


    put on your thinking cap. it has nothing to do with any perticular race. this issue has to do with protecting ourselves. this would affect all races that are here illegally. lodi hates mexicans as much as i'd imagine you're a rocket scientist.

  • posted at 4:59 pm on Sat, Apr 1, 2006.


    What I didn't know, was the way some of our Mexican American people felt about us. Thought, we were all Americans. What's going on here?

  • posted at 4:21 am on Sat, Apr 1, 2006.


    There should be a way to come here legally and work. If you cant pay your own way then you shouldnt be allowed here. We dont need more burdens on our working class.



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