U.S. Debates Illegal Immigration

1 decade 5 months 4 weeks ago March 27, 2006 Mar 27, 2006 Monday, March 27 2006 Monday, March 27, 2006 9:16:30 PM CST in News

Also in Washington, D.C., clergy and immigration supporters held an interfaith prayer service in front of the Capitol.

And, people from coast to coast voiced their opinions. Thousands took to the streets in Detroit, while in the Los Angeles and Houston areas, hundreds of students walked out of classes to demonstrate.

Their protests came at a time when Congress is considering an immigration reform bill.

Officials estimate there are 22,000 undocumented workers in Missouri. Some of them help build your home, serve your food or attend your church.

"I work with immigrants," said Sr. Francine Koehler of Sacred Heart Parish. "They're not criminals. The great majority of them just come here to find work."

Now, a U.S. Senate bill wants to make undocumented immigrants felons, and anyone who helps them could face up to five years in prison if convicted.

Sr. Francine helps Spanish-speaking parishioners, some of whom are illegal immigrants, with social and health needs.

"If they're all felons, where are they going to put them all?" she asked.

"We came to this country to be better," explained Mexican immigrant Raul Alderete. "We don't have the same opportunies in our countries. We don't come here just to be criminals."

Officials said government services cost $2,500-$4,500 a year for each undocumented worker, or up to $100 million dollars a year in Missouri.

But, some local business owners said they don't care what Congress decides, because they'll continue to hire undocumented workers.

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