Obama renews call for immigration reform

FRESNO, California

Both democrats and republicans in the Valley believe immigration law changes won't happen anytime soon.

Within the walls of the capitol President Obama said, "I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now."

The president made a similar call for reform as he entered the White House in 2009... having promised during his campaign that he would secure the borders but also find a way for illegal immigrants to come out of the shadows and make an honest living in America.

Manuel Cunha of the Nisei Farmers League, an advocacy group for local farmers told Action News, "He (the president) promised in 07 to deal with immigration in 08... to get something going... to really do it... but his plan is so big and so divisive to both sides of the aisle... It never happened."

Cunha says he's been trying to push a guest worker plan for years. The plan would include granting illegal immigrants the ability to work in this country for five years with a green card. But Michael Der Manouel, President of the conservative Lincoln Club, says a guest worker program is, in his words, "a pipe dream."

"There's no way the federal government has the ability to institute 11 million visas," said Michael Der Manouel. "It takes them two years to get one green card out."

Der Manouel says until the system is overhauled, there is no way any legislation on immigration reform will pass, much less be put into practice.

Leoncio Vasquez, a local immigration reform advocate and organizer of the May first parade through the streets of Fresno, has little hope for change any time soon. However, he and hundreds of other Central Valley residents plan to continue their local efforts.

"It is a huge thing, it is controversial, it is hard, but it has to do with human lives," said Vasquez. "And even though we don't see any positive sign of what's going on in this country, we have hope."

With a limping economy and an election a little more than nine months away, both sides agree there is little hope of any immigration reform taking place anytime soon.

Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.