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Locals React To Proposed Immigration Reform

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(Photo Credit: KDKA)

(Photo Credit: KDKA)

Mary Robb Jackson Mary Robb Jackson
Mary Robb Jackson joined KDKA-TV as a general assignment reporter in...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — “Tienda La Jimenez” is a small slice of the American Dream on Broadway Avenue in Pittsburgh.

Saul Franco-Jimenez came to the U.S. in 1990, became a citizen, married a girl from Lawrenceville and has four sons. Over the past decade he’s built his grocery business stocking everything from Spanish spices to Rosary beads.

Just down the block, Santa and Gabriel Hernandez-Aribas opened “Tienda El Milagro” a year ago.

A subtle Hispanic flavor is weaving its way into the Pittsburgh tapestry. Over the past decade the city’s Hispanic population saw a 50 percent increase, in Allegheny County – a more than 70-percent increase.

Though Latinos are scattered throughout our area, the Beechview neighborhood is home to a growing Mexican community and they’re paying close attention to the possibility of major changes in immigration laws.

“I think a lot of Hispanics gonna be happy to hear that something can be done,” says Saul Jimenez.

Gabriel Hernandez echoes those feelings, “I think it would be wonderful – everybody like get a job.”

Though far from a done deal, some of the changes proposed could create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in this country.

The border would have to be secured and there would be better tracking of visitors here on visas.

Reforming the legal immigration system could include awarding green cards to immigrants who earn degrees in science, math, technology or engineering from American universities.

As well as putting in place an effective employment verification system making sure that employers do not hire illegal immigrants.

“As long as they don’t come illegally – I have no problem,” says Madeline Orfitelli. “My ancestors came from Italy, so if they weren’t able to come to the US, I wouldn’t be here.”

But Ryan Rohe worries that at time immigrants are sometimes given a free lunch.

“The people that are working such as my parents and myself, it’s hard.”

In a statement from Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, he said “empowering immigrant workers is a win for all working people.”

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