Experts shed light on the issue

The League of Women Voters held a forum on the impact of immigration on Northern Nevada on Thursday night at the South Valleys Branch Library in Reno. Speakers from several agencies discussed aspects and impacts of immigration. Here is some of the information shared.

In 2005, only 464,430 visas were granted to enter the U.S. worldwide. It is a lengthy and difficult process.

Congress and the Department of State set the yearly quotas.

An illegal immigrant woman who has a child in America can be deported, even though the child is an American citizen.

It can take up to one year for a legal resident to obtain a "green" card granting permanent resident status, and then five years to apply for citizenship.

A test in English about government and history, and a demonstrated ability to read, write, and speak English, is still required.

Congress does not appropriate enough money necessary for full enforcement.

Any guest worker program would need to be written very carefully so that the present situation is not worsened.

The Nevada department does not have an estimate of illegal immigrants in the state.

- Jerry Garcia, director of the Reno office of the Immigration Service Benefits Department

Many illegal immigrants are escaping genocide, gangs, crime, war and terrible working conditions when they come to America.

A solution is to help other countries better the lives of their citizens. Big business should be helping in this effort, not exploiting workers.

I think President Bush's guest worker program is a good start. Instead of doing a blanket amnesty, have them a pay a fine to the government instead of paying a coyote to get them across the border. They will keep coming in, it's not going to stop.

- Cecilia Khan, Nevada Hispanic Services, client advocacy coordinator

Illegal Immigrants cannot access welfare programs. Those who try with false documents have their cards cross-checked by Immigration for verification.

Medicaid pays hospitals and doctors for emergency room treatment of illegal immigrants, including delivery of babies, at a cost of $12 million per year.

Records are not kept of numbers of illegal immigrants because they do not have access to most services.

Legal aliens cannot access services for the first five years.

- John Liveratti, Medicaid compliance chief for the Division of Healthcare, Financing and Policy.


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