Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims discusses immigration reform in Washington D.C.

June 11, 2013 12:00:00 AM PDT
Senate democrats and some republicans overcame an attempted filibuster against a major immigration reform bill. The move clears the way for lawmakers to debate the legislation over the next few weeks.

President Obama and leaders from across the country gathered for a last push for immigration reform, hours before the senate held its first votes on the landmark bill.

"Right now our immigration system has no credible way of dealing with the 11 million men and women who are in this country illegally," said President Obama.

Among those standing next to the president for reform was Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims, who highlighted some issues here in the Valley.

Sheriff Mims explained, "Immigration reform is very important. What I hear from our farmers is they have employees that are assaulted, robbed in the field while they are working, cars are stolen, but they're afraid to report crimes because of their immigration status."

Sheriff Mims said that fear makes it difficult for law enforcement officers.

"This is necessary for public safety," said Sheriff Mims. "Also the tools for law enforcement to positively identify people is built into this bill and that's why is very important."

This issue is especially important to groups like the Nisei Farmers League, which supports laborers and farmers in the Central Valley. The group's president, Manuel Cunha, says the diverse support is a testimony to the need for reform around the country and in the Valley.

Cunha explained, "Comprehensive includes taking care of the workers that are here, allowing them to get permanent residency, and giving those that wish to have a pathway to citizenship."

And at the end of President Obama's speech he urged both sides to come together.

"Do your job not only to fix a broken immigration system once and for all, but to leave something better for all the generations to come."


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