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Immigration reform debate pushed back in Congress; advocates take action

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TWC News: Immigration reform debate pushed back in Congress; advocates take action
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CHARLOTTE -- While Congress debates the situation in Syria, issues on the home front are getting pushed back.

One of those is immigration reform. Immigration reform advocates are concerned, and they're taking action.

The Immigration Policy Center says nearly 10 percent of North Carolina workers are foreign born. Many immigration rights advocates say now is the time for change.

Rausel Arista is a community organizer at the Latin American Coalition. He says the tide is turning on the immigration issue.

"Congress has been taking this issue more seriously," said Arista.

But he now fears the situation in Syria may put the brakes on immigration reform.

"We agree it's really a big issue inside the country," said Arista.

Congress is back in session. But with Syria being the hot topic, other issues like immigration reform are being pushed back.

"It is going to be pushed back, and, already, it was a very delicate balance about whether immigration reform could be taken up this year,” said Dr. Gregory Weeks, political science professor at UNC-Charlotte.

Just this June, the Senate passed an immigration reform bill with a 68 to 32 margin.

"The electoral perception by Republicans in particular has changed," said Weeks.

But the bill hasn't moved in the Republican-controlled House.

"I think they chose just to get something passed out of the House. Members I've spoken to weren't pleased with it,” said Rep. Robert Pittenger.

"After Syria you've got to deal with questions of the federal budget,” said Weeks.

Congress has 39 working days left this year to squeeze in immigration reform.

"It's conceivable even that it gets pushed back until after the 2014 legislative election," said Weeks.

Several immigration advocates are hoping to persuade Congress to return to reviewing the issue, by going to Washington to rally legislatures toward reform. The group, which includes many from Charlotte, will leave on Wednesday.

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