May 26, 2006 in Nation/World

Migrants see hope in Senate bill

Olga R. Rodriguez Associated Press

NUEVO LAREDO, Mexico – Migrants preparing to sneak into U.S. territory said they were encouraged that immigration reform had cleared the Senate on Thursday, expressing hope that the measure allowing them to work legally and gain U.S. citizenship would soon be enacted.

But they seemed determined to cross the Rio Grande, with or without help from Washington.

“Everyone who goes there finds work,” said Antonio Ortiz, a 31-year-old from El Salvador who was trying to get back to Austin, Texas, where he worked construction jobs before being deported in March.

Ortiz said he swam across the Rio Grande into Laredo, Texas, on Thursday morning only to be captured by the U.S. Border Patrol and sent back to Mexico. He said his plan was to slip into American territory and then hope legislation allowing him to simply pay a fine and remain there legally would become law.

The Senate bill giving millions of illegal immigrants a chance at U.S. citizenship passed 62-36 in a bipartisan compromise. Next come tough negotiations with the House of Representatives, which passed a bill focused on border security that would make all illegal immigrants subject to felony charges, rather than merely civil deportation procedures.

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