Reaction as landmark immigration bill passes Senate

June 27, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The bill provides a 13-year path to citizenship for immigrants who are now here illegally.

To win Republican support, it also calls for 20,000 new border patrol agents, and completion of a 700-mile security fence on the Mexican border.

More than 1,000 Hispanic-American leaders at the 30th annual conference of the national association of Latino elected and appointed officials watched television as the U.S. Senate voted in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. Many call this a historic moment.

"First of all, you commend the U.S. Senate for this great passage, but it really helps our 11 million immigrants to come out of the shadow and be in the forefront," said Former Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Pauline Medrano.

"We are very worried about what the House is going to do but this is a step in the right direction," said 22nd Ward Alderman Ricardo Munoz.

Not everyone is in favor of elements of reform. Some are skeptical about a border fence being built.

"It seems like there's a lot of people that are going to benefit from this $3 million fence that's supposed to be the answer to everything, and it's not," said educator Eva Marie Martinez.

"Already we have so many problems with the budget, and we're going to have more problems with the entitlements," said Rebecca Herrero of Art Bodega Magazine.

NALEO's mission is to empower Hispanics.

"The ability for Latino policy makers to get together, to learn from each other... it's tremendously empowering," said NALEO board member Ross Romero.

This is the second time that NALEO comes to Chicago. It's been an 18-year span. Participants are really impressed with the wide spectrum of subjects and topics being covered here at the conference.

Attendees enjoyed the workshops and exhibits ranging from supporting gay and lesbian marriage to learning more about banking.

"We want to work with you on a very important mission, and that's to make sure everybody is in and nobody is left out," said Illinois Governor Pat Quinn.

Quinn won the support of the crowd with his welcoming remarks and the signing of a bill to strengthen the Illinois Latino Family Commission.

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