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Group says immigration reform plan is good start

Federal lawmakers introduce new immigration plan

MADISON, Wis. - A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is rolling out a new plan to reform immigration laws, and one local group said it's a good start.

The plan rolled out Monday afternoon by eight senators, Republican and Democrat, includes a pathway to citizenship for some 11 million undocumented immigrants in the country, including thousands in the Madison area.

It would require those with no criminal backgrounds to register with the government, pay a fine and all back taxes. It would also penalize employers who hire undocumented workers and create a "guest worker" program for jobs Americans are unable or unwilling to fill.

A local group that rallies for worker rights and immigration reform said it could help fix a broken system.

"Many people in the community, they don't even have one way to apply, whether in Mexico or here. The reality is the system is broken, and the good news today is they are trying to mend it," said Alex Gillis, of the Immigrant Workers Union.

The group estimates there are at least 20,000 to 30,000 people in Madison affiliated with someone who has no documentation to be in the country.

Immigrant Workers Union officials said any substantial immigration reform measures leading to citizenship could make a big impact on the Madison community. The group hopes to hold rallies and get involved as the legislation advances.

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