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Apr 17, 2013 9:22 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Tucsonans react to proposed immigration reform bill

TUCSON - The country is getting its first look at the proposed immigration reform bill, drafted by the 'Gang of 8' senators which includes Arizona's two senators John McCain and Jeff Flake.

The bill is a whopping 844 pages long -- a comprehensive approach to fixing the country's broken immigration system.

It takes a two-fold approach, attempting to balance a pathway to residency for immigrants already here while maintaing and improving border security.

"We appreciate the President's support and we believe that's important as we move on with the process," McCain said shortly after delivering a draft of the bill to President Obama Tuesday.

Here in Southern Arizona, immigrants' rights groups are critical of the compromises already made.

"We demand that the be no more detentions. No more criminialization of our communities and that all the deportations stop immediately and this newimmigration proposal is not doing any of that," said Raul Alcarez Ochoa, a member of the immigrants' rights group Derechos Humanos.

It's something that hits close to home for Aly Valenzuela, whose husband was one of several recently detained by Border Patrol for being in the country illegally.

"I just ask that my husband and the other detainees get released because they come here to work and we need them back," Valenzuela told News 4 Tucson.

With a heavy focus on border security, the immigration plan calls for 90 percent effectiveness -- in successful apprehensions of illegal crossers -- along the most trafficked corridors of the border.

"I definitely think it's necessary to do something... to make some changes," said Jeremy Slack, a reseacher at the University of Arizona's Latin American Studies Center.

He studies the flow of migrants across the border and while he understands the senators' focus on security, he said the "effectiveness" gauge might be skewed because those limited numbers already come from the feds.

"Let's take some other strategies here. This is our chance to rething what's going on. Do these programs... does this actually make the border safer? Does it increase security?" Slack said.

While there will undoubtedbly be countless committee hearings, discussions and debates as the legislation moves forward, the bi-partisan group of senators behind the bill sincerely believe they have a shot at getting it passed.

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