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Destination America

5.12.06
Politics and Economy:
Latinos Now: A National Conversation
More on This Story:
This Week's Show: Latinos Now: A National Conversation

Over a million demonstrators, many of them Latinos, took to the streets earlier this month in cities throughout America protesting for the rights of some 11.5 million illegal immigrants. Many immigrants boycotted work as a way of showing their worth to the economy.

The House of Representatives passed a bill last year that includes provisions to criminalize illegal immigrants and bolster border security. A more moderate Senate bill would provide them with a path toward citizenship.

As Congress struggles to find a solution, NOW brings together national leaders, activists and politicians in a Town Hall meeting hosted by Maria Hinojosa to discuss how to solve the nation's immigration impasse and reflect on what impact this movement is having on America. The San Antonio meeting is produced in conjunction with NPR's Latino USA. In some heated exchanges we find out just how different America's views are on what to do with the country's illegal immigrants.

Some of the panelists believe that illegal immigrants have no right to be in America in the first place. "I think we have to look at the fact that I don't think the word 'immigrant' should be used ... these people that are here illegally, they're not immigrants," Richard Langlois, head of the Bexar County Republican party in Texas told the forum. He added that legislation is needed to help illegal immigrants achieve an identity but until that happens, "it's not a civil rights movement because they don't have any rights."

Others believe that the U.S. should open its arms to illegal immigrants and suggest that their presence enriches American life. "These are human beings who come here to work hard, raise their children, have a better life, go to church and pay taxes. They're paying their way. What is the problem?" Henry Cisneros, former mayor of San Antonio, Texas said.

Where is the immigration issue headed after intense news coverage, lots of noise in congress and loud individual voices across America? This week on NOW.

In Depth
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Latinos Now: A National Conversation on Immigration


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