Lansing Latinos Speak Out on Immigration Bills in Congress

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

Amid the music, amid the cultural celebration, there's an issue affecting so many gathered here at Cristo Rey Catholic Church's annual Fiesta.

"People come here (to the U.S.) to work, people come here to make a living ... And I think everybody should be legal. I mean, everybody should be given a chance," Lansing-born Latina Cecilia Macias said in an interview Sunday.

Macias' husband came to the U.S. from Mexico through legal channels. But Macias is sympathetic to those who don't follow immigration laws.

"They're hard workers. They're just trying to make a living," she said.

So Macias supports a Senate bill giving those here illegally a "pathway" to U.S. citizenship -- something detractors consider amnesty. Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) voted for the senate's immigration bill, while Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) voted against it.

The pathway included in the Senate bill is also supported by a legal immigrant we found enjoying the Fiesta. But this immigrant didn't come from Latin America: Darius Lewandowski arrived 10 years ago from Poland on a student visa.

"Even that, to get a sponsorship is quite a challenge," Lewandowski said, remarking on the difficulty he found in obtaining his student visa.

He says immigrant workers are vital to the American economy, so along with a pathway to citizenship, it makes sense to allow more workers to come here.

"A guest worker program. That's the way to go, really," Lewandowski said.

The idea also appeals to Lansing resident Manuel Delgado, who was born in Texas.

"I'm a Democrat. But it seems to me the president has the only bill making any sense," Delgado said.

President Bush's plan is largely in line with the Senate bill. Delgado says he doesn't see much point to the tougher bill passed in the House. That bill would make illegal immigrants felons and focus exclusively on sealing the border.

"It doesn't make any difference what they do in terms of putting the walls up or anything else. We're only making people angry. We're only isolating people," Delgado said.

People Delgado says are just hard-workers trying give their families a better life. Macias sees it the same way.

"Give them a chance. Give them a big chance. That's what they need," she said.

A chance they might have, come next year's Fiesta.


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