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Strong state support for immigration reform

URBANA-CHAMPAIGN -- Those fighting for immigration reform found out Wednesday they have some strong support.
URBANA-CHAMPAIGN -- Those fighting for immigration reform found out Wednesday they have some strong support. Eighteen mayors in the state signed a letter on its way to Congress. It urges lawmakers to pass immigration reform. WCIA-3's Megan Brilley finds out who exactly is on the list.

Both Urbana Mayor Laurel Prussing and Champaign Mayor Don Gerard signed on the dotted line; standing behind the thousands in Urbana-Champaign who say they face a strong stigma.

"I remember, just so big. Everything was so big."

It's the first thought which ran through Ricardo Diaz's mind when he moved here from Mexico. He was only 12. He's never felt accepted and it's something his friends can relate to.

"I think there's a public perspective on people who are here who have Spanish last names who speak Spanish who look Latino or Hispanic as not being American, but un-American."

"It depends on how much you can speak and defend yourself and the other is how much you want to speak out and stick your neck out."

Diaz stuck his head out by starting C-U Immigration Forum. It gives people of all ages, just like him, somewhere to belong. For years, he's been fighting for reform. When he heard mayors in his community were getting on board, he felt like half the battle was won.

"To put it on paper means they're taking time out to make federal officials listen."

Mayor Gerard says thousands of students at UI are immigrants who would be valuable to our economy.

"We have some of the most brilliant minds coming here to further their education, further their work and their research, then turning around and sending them back home."

People against reform say it will take jobs away from local workers, but Gerard, along with 17-other Illinois' mayors say, keeping people like Diaz around, leads to a bigger tax base and more than $5.4 billion in extra revenue.

"We're not enemies. We are not a threat. We are each others support and resource."

Diaz has 1,000 signed letters he plans to take to Washington, D.C., in the next month.
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