(Memphis) Latino Memphis is trying to convince local lawmakers about the importance of immigration reform and its impact on the city’s economy.
According to the US Census, the Latino population in Memphis is the fastest growing group in Memphis.
Because of that, Latino Memphis is trying to stay ahead of any possible immigration reform by educating lawmakers.
The group held a roundtable discussion Monday with the offices of US Representatives Marsha Blackburn and Steve Fincher, along with others.
“I think this is really important to give each other an opportunity to spark a dialog and educate each other,” said Latino Memphis Director Mauricio Calvo.
Calvo says most people think becoming a legal US citizen is as easy as getting in line and signing up.
That’s not the case, and it’s something they hope to teach lawmakers through events like the roundtable discussion.
“The laws are primarily geared toward people with tons of education or tons of money and if you don’t have those two a lot of times nothing will lead to that,” said Calvo.
The group supports a plan that creates a path to citizenship with criteria like being in the country paying and taxes for a certain amount of time and staying out of trouble.
Latino Memphis says it doesn’t expect everyone to agree on a plan like that but say it could reinvigorate Memphis’s economy.
“These people are renting property or buying property and they’re paying sales tax. So the more people we have in Memphis the better off we are. It creates jobs,” said Calvo.
No lawmakers at the roundtable wanted to give a statement, but participant Shawn Robertson says there is still work to be done to win people over.
“As speaker Boehner says Immigration reform isn’t dead so hopefully when they convene in 2014 they will be able to work on a package both the house and senate can agree on,” said Robertson.
Leaders at Latino Memphis say they expect lawmakers to take up immigration reform by the summer.