PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A pathway to full citizenship for some 11 million undocumented residents is what congressional Democrats called President Joe Biden’s immigration reform bill introduced Thursday.
So what would that bill do for those in the Pittsburgh region? Political editor Jon Delano spoke with some local “Dreamers” about their hopes for this legislation.READ MORE: WalletHub: Pennsylvania Among Least Safe States During Pandemic
For generations, this region has attracted tens of thousands of immigrants, mostly from Europe. Today, they come from Central and South America, Asia, and Africa. Many broke the law to come here or bring their children here.
“My life is here in the United States, I was here since I was two,” says Pablo Molina of Beechview.
The 23-year old grew up in Pittsburgh, but he’s not a citizen because he was born in Mexico and brought here illegally by his parents. Bethel Park 28-year old Ana Alberto has a similar story.
“I was only 10 years old when I came here, and Pittsburgh has my heart now. I love the sports, even the weather,” said Alberto.
Under the Biden immigration bill, Dreamers like Molina and Alberto could become U.S. citizens in three years.
“Dumbfounded and extremely happy because such an opportunity did not seem possible not too long ago,” says Molina.READ MORE: Heinz Field COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic Adding More Appointments
They are not alone. Pittsburgh immigration attorney Peter Rogers says lots of undocumented residents live among us.
“It would be in the thousands, Jon,” says Rogers. “There are nationalities from all over the world.”
But Ira Mehlman with FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform that opposes Biden’s bill, says these immigrants came or stayed here illegally.
“It’s all about amnesty for millions of people who violated our laws,” says Mehlman. “It’s all about satisfying the demands of business interests because the law of supply and demand means that wages get damped down.”
Jamie Englert, the director of immigration legal services for the Jewish Family & Community Services, acknowledges that laws were broken, but notes, “I think we are faced with a choice of what do we do with people when they are here.”
Like most immigration bills, this one faces lots of hurdles in Congress.MORE NEWS: Pennsylvania Department Of Health Says Flu Activity Across State Remains Low
“There’s a lot of hope, a lot of hope in all of us,” says Alberto.