Local advocates call for Va. Sen. Kaine to act on immigration reform

Supporters for immigration reform are pushing for quicker action from Congress. Local advocate groups — including the Virginia Coalition for Immigrant Rights — were able to hear and speak with their senator Monday on immigration reform’s current status in Congress.

At a roundtable discussion in Arlington, U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia told those in attendance that there are three paths currently to immigration reform. Together with 11 other senators, Kaine is a part of a bipartisan group trying to craft a reform bill.

However, Kaine said getting 61 votes in the current Senate to pass a bill is not likely.

“Prospects are tough, not impossible,” Kaine said.

The other two paths are executive action by President Joe Biden or Democrats passing a measure by reconciliation.

After listening to the concerns from those in attendance at the meeting for two hours, Kaine said he heard people say that something needs to happen soon.

“Virtually everybody said, ‘Time is of the essence,'” Kaine said. “The Senate time, things slow down and move slowly, but I’m not living in fear every day, and for people who are, things moving slowly is very frustrating.”

Lia Parada of Immigration Hub echoed similar concerns.

“My concern is some of those members want to talk about the issues in eternity, without any dealmaking,” Parada said.

Some of those present at the meeting want reforms for people who are under Temporary Protected Status (TPS), while others wanted a proposal that would help young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, known as “Dreamers.”

One of those “Dreamers” who attended the roundtable was Daniel Sanchez of the Dream Project. He said there is a lot of discussion in the U.S. about finding and bringing in qualified workers.

“We talk about getting the best people from overseas; we have them now,” Sanchez said about the “Dreamers,” adding, “but they can’t do anything.”

Kaine said any bill that the Senate takes up through reconciliation would likely include a path to citizenship, citizenship protection for “Dreamers” and some visa reform.

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Kyle Cooper

Weekend and fill-in anchor Kyle Cooper has been with WTOP since 1992. Over those 25 years, Kyle has worked as a street reporter, editor and anchor. Prior to WTOP, Kyle worked at several radio stations in Indiana and at the Indianapolis Star Newspaper.

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