Maryland Immigrant Leaders Await President's Speech | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

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Maryland Immigrant Leaders Await President's Speech

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By Matt Bush

President Obama is scheduled to give an address on the need for immigration reform tomorrow at American University.

Leaders on both sides of the issue in Maryland are eagerly anticipating his words. Gustavo Torres is the executive director of Casa de Maryland, the state's largest immigrant services group. He was one of several people who met with the president earlier this week at the White House to discuss Mr. Obama's upcoming speech.

Torres says he told the president that raids on suspected undocumented immigrants must stop because they are tearing families apart. Torres says most of the people deported every day in the U.S. are not criminals, but "people who really want to make a difference," he says. "People who we call in, we invite to be in our country, because no one wants to do the jobs they are doing."

"Picking the oranges, tomatoes, cleaning houses; all of those extraordinary jobs that no one else wants to do, they do it," he says. "We welcome them over here, and then we treat them like criminals."

Casa de Maryland's opponents have long claimed the group harbors and aids undocumented immigrants. Groups like Help Save Maryland say taxpayers are paying the price for such immigrants. The group estimates undocumented immigrants cost Montgomery County over $234 million a year, an average of $790 per household.

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