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Both Sides Find Things To Like, Hate About Immigration Bill

— At a Wednesday press conference in San Diego, immigrant rights activists were looking a little tired from having just tried to digest the 844-page immigration reform bill released overnight.

Aired 4/18/13 on KPBS News.

Immigrant rights activists and business groups say the bill is a good first step, but they'll still lobby for changes.

But they were generally pleased with what they read. Christian Ramirez, who directs the Southern Border Communities Coalition, lauded the bill for addressing the use of force and racial profiling by border agents.

But he said "that has to be balanced with the fact that there are still lawmakers in this country that believe that our region has to be further militarized.”

Union leader and California State Assembly candidate Lorena Gonzalez said the path to citizenship will make it easier for immigrants to unionize.

“We want to raise the bar for each and every worker and we think this bill is going to help us do that,” she said.

National business groups responded, too. Geoff Burr is a vice president for Associated Builders and Contractors. He praised a visa program that would allow temporary foreign construction workers into the country, but said the program was too small to meet the industry's needs.

Some conservative groups spoke out against major provisions like legalization for immigrants in the country illegally. The bill is so massive because it tackles border security, immigrant legalization, visas for foreign workers and workplace verification.

Across the country, most interest groups that responded to the bill said it included things they liked and disliked. The senators who drafted the bill said that meant it was a true compromise.

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