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Hagerstown area residents speak out about immigration

April 02, 2012|By CALEB CALHOUN | caleb.calhoun@herald-mail.com
  • From left, Michael Mace, Shannon Turner and Andrew Tresselt shared their thoughts about immigration and a recent proposal by President Obama.
Photos by Caleb Calhoun

Hagerstown resident Michael Mace was quick to point out what he thinks are flaws in support for illegal immigrants who have immediate family members who are American citizens.

“We’re all based in immigrants ourselves,” he said. “All of us came from somewhere else, so Americans have family members all over the world.”

Mace, 49, was among Hagerstown residents who talked Monday about their thoughts on whether illegal immigrants with immediate family members who are American citizens should have an easier path to permanent residency. He said everybody who wants to come to the United States should go through the same process, and immigrants with family in America should not be treated any differently.

“We might have to admit half the world if we did that,” he said. “Everybody has the right to go through the process, but that does not mean that we have to admit everybody.”

According to a published report Friday, the Obama administration is proposing an immigration rule change that would reduce the time illegal immigrants are separated from their American families while seeking legal status. Illegal immigrants who are immediate relatives of United States citizens could stay in the country while applying for permanent residency.

Shannon Turner, 55, spoke against the proposal.

“Americans aren’t getting a free ride, so I don’t think they ought to either,” she said. “The immigrants that have family here should not have easier access.”

Leopold Leumegni, 37, had mixed reactions, saying it depends on the situation.

“I do think kids who were brought here illegally should have an easier path if they have family here,” he said. “It wasn’t their fault they came over here.”

However, Leumegni said he thinks it should be different for adults.

“The grown-ups deliberately crossed the border illegally,” he said. “Just because they have family here is not a good reason to keep them here.”

Andrew Tresselt said he supports the proposal.

“Family is important, and you don’t want to separate them,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to be separated from my family.”

Tresselt, 46, said he supports an easier path to citizenship for kids as well.

“If they were raised here, that’s more of a reason for them to stay,” he said. “They started their life here.”

John McCaffrey, 20 said he supports the proposal because he thinks keeping families together is important.

“I wouldn’t hold it against somebody for wanting to be with their family,” he said. “I would want to be closer to my family in that situation.”

McCaffrey said he thinks the country should support the idea because of what the United States represents.

“I understand we have protocol to follow, but we’re Americans,” he said. “We’re supposed to be friendly.”

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