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Virginians Weigh In on House vs. Senate Immigration Bill


A comprehensive immigration reform bill in the U.S. Senate that survived an effort to expand its border-security requirements still has a long way to go before its passage.  Meanwhile, a House bill with tougher enforcement provisions is being advanced by Republicans-led by 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte.  But as Virginia Public Radio’s Tommie McNeil reports, a state coalition says the Commonwealth’s residents prefer the Senate version … and it's urging the Congressional delegation to support it. . .

The Senate bill expedites the process by which undocumented immigrants can apply for legal status. One coalition, which includes Virginia Organizing, says a recent poll shows that as long as guidelines are followed, there’s overwhelming support in the Commonwealth to provide a path for citizenship for these undocumented residents. Tim Freilich, with the Legal Aid Justice Center, says the U.S. has 11 million such immigrants-with more than 200-thousand in Virginia. He says they contribute greatly to the state's workforce-especially in the Shenandoah Valley, which Goodlatte represents:
"And you don't need to be an economist to understand that if you remove 11-point-one-million undocumented immigrants and their families from the U.S., the damage that that would do to our economy---it would be devastating."

Tommie McNeil is a State Capitol reporter who has been covering Virginia and Virginia politics for more than a decade. He originally hails from Maryland, and also doubles as the evening anchor for 1140 WRVA in Richmond.