Chicagoans react to Obama immigration reform speech

January 29, 2013 3:28:36 PM PST
Alla Mukahhal is a Kuwaiti-born Palestinian. Her parents brought her to the U.S. when she was 6-years old. Then they overstayed their visas.

"I'm a Chicagoan. I grew up here. This is my home. This is where I'm from," Mukahhal said.

Mukahhal and a group of mostly young people gathered to listen to the president as he spoke about comprehensive immigration reform.

"I've sat in front of a television and watched Obama with this feeling of excitement and hope in my stomach. And I feel it's a little bit tamed this year," Tania Unzueta, undocumented immigrant, said.

Despite some applause as the president insisted that a path to citizenship must be found for those living here illegally, most of those who gathered to watch his speech withheld judgment.

"We've held our hopes high in the past, and only to realize nothing really happened," Daniel Garcia, undocumented immigrant, said.

The president's speech comes on the heels of a Senate proposal that would simultaneously provide a path to citizenship while strengthening border controls. While many oppose it, some believe its eventual approval is inevitable.

"I'll take a guess that it will pass because I've been studying the Republican party. I'm an elected Republican official, and I find my party full of stupid establishment Republicans," Carl Sevich, republican committeeman 11th Ward, said. "And, if it was common sense, we would have done it years ago."

Speaking on the phone from Puerto Rico Tuesday, Congressman Luis Gutierrez said he believes a compromise can be found even in the republican controlled House of Representatives.

"We've talked about immigration reform, and we've talked about it for over a decade. And now is the time for lawmakers in both parties to come out of those shadows and work with the president in a bipartisan way. Let's get this done," Gutierrez said. "Let's get this done."