Local lawmakers cautiously optimistic on federal immigration ref - CBS46 News

Local lawmakers cautiously optimistic on federal immigration reform

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Lawmakers and activists in Georgia said the new bipartisan federal plan to reform the nation's immigration laws is a good first step, but illegal immigration opponents and immigrant rights groups are cautiously optimistic.

Illegal immigration has been a vexing issue in the state.

Regardless of where they stand, however, both Democrats and Republicans are happy there seems to be some movement on immigration reform.

Gov. Nathan Deal said the new federal immigration reform plan appears to be a move in the right direction, he said it remains to be seen exactly what the details will include.

"I think we have to wait and see what the full package looks like. This is a subject that can only be solved at the federal level," Deal said.

State Sen. Barry Loudermilk last year introduced a controversial, ill-fated bill that would have ban illegal immigrants from attending Georgia's public colleges and universities.

Loudermilk said regardless of what lawmakers in Washington, D.C. agree on, illegal immigrants need to play by the same rules as people who immigrated legally to the U.S.

"We need to make sure what we're doing is the right thing and that it's safe for Americans and supports freedom and liberty for everyone," Loudermilk said.

Jerry Gonzalez, the executive director of Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials, said any immigration plan needs to be comprehensive and bipartisan.

"I think it's a great step forward," Gonzalez said. "There's a lot of consensus growing about this, so now it's time for Congress to act and get it done."

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