HAZLETON — According to Congressman and former Hazleton Mayor Lou Barletta, Hazleton’s Hispanic population grows each year. People we spoke with there say they’re happy to see immigration take center stage on the national level.
When you visit West Hazleton or Hazleton, it’s likely you’ll see signs like this, all in Spanish.
For many people in this part of Luzerne County, English is a second language, and talk about immigration reform has people like Jose Reynoso excited.
“I think it’s very good for try to for immigration, for the people, because the people is coming to the united states for work,” said Reynoso.
That’s what brought Reynoso here from the Dominican Republic. He’s now a U.S. citizen who owns this market in West Hazleton. But that’s not the situation for many other immigrants.
Amilcar Arroyo used to publish a Hispanic newspaper in Hazleton. He says the 11 million undocumented workers already in the United States should have a chance to become part of the legal economic field.
“I’m not happy yet, but I will be when they sign and see people that I know living in the dark, come into the sun,” said Amilcar Arroyo.
Arroyo says it’s places that could really benefit from immigration reform. He says in the Hazleton area alone, there are more than 100 businesses owned by Hispanic people.
Republican Congressman Lou Barletta says he’s on board with immigration reform, but doesn’t support the Senate’s proposed bill.
“As long as our borders are open, and as long as we cannot track people when their visas expire, we are going to have this problem down the road again,” said Congressman Barletta.
But Arroyo says immigrants will find a way into the states no matter what, and Jose Reynoso says once they get here, becoming a citizen is citizenship is key.
“”When you’re going to the bank, you need your citizen for opening an account, for opening a business, for everything, for buy a house,” said Reynoso.
“Mas oportunidades?” Newswatch 16 asked.
“Muy. Very, very,” said Reynoso.
Congressman Barletta says there’s still lots to debate on a national level before any legislation is passed, and that it would take time before plans from an immigration reform bill go into effect