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Citizenship only option for alien immigrants, activists say

As the immigration overhaul campaign picks up speed and more supporters, many people in Florida and around the country are still opposed to giving millions of immigrants who live here in the U.S. illegally a way to attain citizenship without going through the process of returning to their home country. Many meetings have been taking place in our nation's capital these past few weeks to iron out details in proposed legislation designed to address the issue, but for those groups pushing for major changes there is only one choice that they will accept: giving these immigrants a path to U.S. citizenship.

Denying immigrants the opportunity to be citizens but giving them legal status would prevent immigrants from becoming active voices in their communities. Without citizenship, these people would be unable to vote or enjoy other rights that regular citizens have. One activist pointed out that taking such action would create a sub-class that would essentially put these legal residents under the control of others.

The message is simple. If Congress and the president are going to give undocumented immigrants legal status, then that status has to be as potential U.S. citizens. After all, it is only right to give them the same rights and privileges as everyone else -- especially because they contribute a great deal to the economy and many of them are tax payers who abide by the law.

While not all immigrants are likely to apply for naturalization, they should be given the option of doing so. Giving these people a way to become a citizen of the United States can provide a wise solution to a situation that is simply not going to go away.

Source: The Miami Herald, "Activists push path to citizenship, nothing less," Erica Werner, Feb. 8, 2013

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