For the 11 million undocumented who have come to the United States looking for a better life, the worry of deportation is real. Many supporters of immigration reform attended a forum at the University of Texas at Brownsville Tuesday, to hear from guest speaker U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Illinois. He delivered a promise of reform to come in the following months.
"Show me on the issue of gun control republicans and democrats working together, show me on the issue of budget republicans and democrats working together, Gutierrez said, plus (immigration reform) was an issue that had such an impact on the last election that it is clear that's what everybody is going to do."
Gutierrez told a packed room that the country spends over $18 billion per year prosecuting federal cases of illegal re-entry into the county. It TMs more than any other crime, he added.
"These are moms and dads trying to return to their American citizen children."
He said the government needs to refocus their efforts.
"The border patrol needs comprehensive immigration reform so they can use their skills and their day and night to go after the really bad people, Gutierrez said. The drug dealers, the gang bangers, the murderers, the rapist - lets go after them - not against the guy who is trying to come here so his family can do better or reunite with this children."
Gutierrez said unlike the amnesty that happened in 1986, the path to immigration reform this time is a challenge, and compromises will be made between parties.
Some critics argue it's unfair to provide a path to citizenship to the millions that have broken the law for so many years. There are also still differences amongst lawmakers on the issue of visas and border security.
"John McCain said it best, they asked him Saturday, ~why are you doing this? TM Gutierrez said.
He said, ~politics, TM the congressman added. Can I tell you something? If they are going to extend a helping hand to the immigrant community, I don't care why you're doing it. What does ~politics TM mean? It means I want your votes and the only way to that vote is by treating immigrants well."
For some in attendance, Gutierrez message brought renewed hope.
"Despite things included in the comprehensive reform proposal that seem so bleak, he reminded us that we're not alone and to keep going," Elizabeth Alvarado said.