Boise marchers welcome immigration bill as much-needed change

kterhune@idahostatesman.comMay 1, 2013 

— Signs and American flags filled Capitol Boulevard in Boise during Wednesday evening’s immigration rally.

The march was held in support of U.S. Senate Bill 744, which envisions a path to citizenship for immigrants who entered the country illegally.

Belén Arias, 22, said the bill would provide a much-needed change. She said she came to the U.S. with her family when she was 2 years old. She's been waiting two decades to be a legal U.S. resident.

She now has a 2-year-old daughter of her own, and said she was afraid of what would happen to her child if she was deported. Many share her fears of a family torn apart, she said.

“We’ve been here a long time, and our families are waiting for reform,” she said.

Cristal Perkins, 29, who became a citizen by marriage three years ago, said she had shared Arias’ uncertainty. She blamed a system that seemed snarled with red tape for the difficult path to citizenship. Perkins' own mother had applied for citizenship over 23 years ago, but was still waiting to become a legal resident. Perkins said she hoped the Senate bill would help those who wished to become citizens.

“[The legislation] gives way for a better process that doesn’t take 30 years,” she said. “Everyone is so excited about getting this through.”

Perkins said the goal of the march, put on by The Coalition of Immigrant Rights of Idaho, was to raise awareness about immigration reform and the people who need it most. Although many in the crowd were U.S. citizens, they often had friends or family members in limbo, she said.

“A lot of the people here today are residents, and they don’t want to lose their parents,” she said.

The U.S. Senate will consider the immigration bill May 9.

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