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Salt Lake Dream Team lobbies Sen. Lee's staff for humane immigration reform

Published: Friday, March 15 2013 6:33 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Members of the Salt Lake Dream Team visited the staff of Sen. Mike Lee Friday, calling for immigration reform that includes a direct and humane path to citizenship.

"What we are asking for is comprehensive reform that is inclusive and gives 11 million undocumented individuals a path to citizenship," said Itza Hernandez, a member of the youth-oriented immigration rights group.

Dream Team members spent an hour behind closed doors with two Lee staff members to discuss the senator's position on immigration reform and to share their personal stories to underscore their efforts to make reform a reality.

Hernandez, who recently visited Lee's office in Washington, D.C., as well as Sen. Orrin Hatch's staff, said there is definite momentum for federal immigration reform.

Immigration reform, which "explicitly benefits the undocumented lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community" is a priority, she said.

"I think it's the new civil rights movement. It's history in the making," she said. "They (members of Congress) need to choose the right side of history."

Following the meeting, team members unfurled two banners in front of the federal building that read "Inclusive reform now" and "11 million dreams on hold."

The Salt Lake Dream Team is working in concert with national immigration reform organizations in their lobbying efforts.

Bryan Gutierrez, another Dream Team member, said the conversation about immigration reform shifted after the November election, when Latinos broadly supported the re-election of Barack Obama.

"Demographics are definitely changing," Gutierrez said.

Speaking for himself, Gutierrez said immigration reform must include a clear path for citizenship for undocumented people in the United States.

"Some people tell me they would be OK if they just got the right to work," he said.

All undocumented people have a stake in federal immigration reforms, Gutierrez said, but undocumented youths especially need clarity about their futures. "There's all this talent here and it's going to waste," he said.

Mostly, the nation needs immigration reform to put an end to the stress and anxiety undocumented individuals experience in their daily lives, Gutierrez said.

"Eliminating fear is one of the biggest things," he said.

E-mail: marjorie@deseretnews.com

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