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Immigration Reform Hits Close To Home In Beardstown

Updated: Monday, July 14 2014, 10:20 AM CDT
ILLINOIS -- Immigration reform is back in the spotlight after thousands of children are caught at the borders trying to enter the U.S.illegally.

The immigration issue is often thought of as a border state issue, but one-third of the population here in Beardstown is Hispanic and for them immigration reform is personal.

"It was a pretty hard, long process, but looking back now it's pretty good to be a citizen," said Ricardo Flores, Mexican immigrant.

Ricardo moved to the U.S. 25 years ago, and some of his friends and family aren't as lucky as he is. Others can only wish for "papers."

"I have friends, people that work very hard, harder than us because they don't have papers. It;s very hard for them, they're scared of cops, they're scared of immigration. They're scared one day they'll come to the work and pick them up. So for them it's very hard," said Arturo Ruiez, Mexican immigrant.

For both Ricardo and Arturo citizenship means they get stable jobs with benefits. For those here illegally they live in the shadows, but the Mayor would like to see that change.

"I would much rather have a legal person and know who they are than not know who they are and what their background is," said Steve Patterson, Mayor of Beardstown.

Cass County State's Attorney Matt Mays would also like to see a process developed so those here illegally can gain citizenship.

He says there's an important distinction the legal process creates.

"They have to produce a national and local criminal history showing that they've never been in trouble in their country, for example Mexico, that they haven't been arrested, they haven't spent time in the penitentiary, so those are the safe guards that guard our public," said Matt Mays, Cass County States Attorney.

Washington's lack of action is felt in Beardstown where people are watching this issue closely.

"We're paying taxes, our tax dollars could be doing something better than some political people in Washington fighting over something that has no sense," said Flores.

The residents of Beardstown are eagerly awaiting any solution on immigration reform so that they can help their friends and family call the United States home.

The migration of Mexican Americans to Beardstown started about 20 years ago.

Cargill is the largest employer in the area. Immigration Reform Hits Close To Home In Beardstown

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