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U.S. House Opens First Immigration Hearing

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File photo. (Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

File photo. (Credit: Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)

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WASHINGTON (WWJ) - The nation’s immigration system is “in desperate need of repair.”

Those are the words of  Republican Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, as he opened Congress’ first hearing this year on immigration, Tuesday in Washington.

Michigan Democratic Congressman John Conyers, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said the need for true immigration reform has never been greater.

“The most important thing is to bring families together. The pain of seeing kids born here as their parents are sent back to their country is something that we think we’re going to be able to deal with,” Conyers said.”For the dream kids that are already here, we want to make sure they have a way of becoming citizens instead of having to go back out and get at the end of the line.”

President Barrack Obama has called on Congress to pass an immigration bill that deals with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. today — 100,000 of them in Michigan.

Locally, undocumented immigrants are talking about the challenge of trying to keep their families together as they pursue the maze that is U.S. immigration

Sergio Martinez, 24, of Detroit, came to U.S. as a young child, went to school here, graduated and managed a restaurant. Now he works full-time in the fight for immigration reform.

“People like myself, a couple years ago, wouldn’t be having this interviews, because we’d be too scared to get deported,” Martinez told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Jon Hewitt.

Last week he had the opportunity to meet President Obama in Las Vegas.   He said he works and prays for the millions of others in limbo. “Hopefully Congress and the President keep their word,” Martinez said.

For Cindy Garcia of Lincoln Park, seeking citizenship for her husband Jorge has been a decade-long struggle. She and their two young children are U.S. citizens, but he is not, and is scheduled to be deported in May.

“They keep saying that he came in illegally and he is a criminal,” Garcia said.

Garcia said the situation is complicated as her husband entered the country as a child. “They did not know the difference until my husband, at 18, realized … I’m not a U.S. citizen, yet, I’m part of this country and I was brought up to say the Pledge Allegiance to the flag.”

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