DENVER - The words they heard from President Obama were the ones many in the room had waited years to hear.
At a watch party in west Denver, sponsored by Service Employees International Union, about 100 people gathered to hear President Obama's plan. They watched a television feed of the speech the president made in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The president is calling for a pathway to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently living in this country.
"We all agree that these men and women should have to earn their right to citizenship, but for comprehensive immigration reform to work it must be clear from the outset that there is a pathway to citizenship," President Obama said.
Ezequiel Ramirez, 19, sat and listened to the president's speech with a personal connection. While Ezequiel is a U.S. citizen, some of his family members are not. He sees a pathway to their citizenship as a way to keep his family together.
"Of course no family wants to be separated and especially for me. I love my family dearly and just seeing us being separated would really hurt the foundation of our family," Ezequiel said.
Proponents of the immigration reform plan drafted by the White House and a similar plan endorsed by a bi-partisan group of United States Senators say adding the illegal immigrants to our workforce will strengthen our economy.
Opponents argue the exact opposite will occur.
"I think what people are missing is the fact that this is going to be a strain on public and private resources. It is already a problem with unemployment," said John Brick, a spokesperson for the Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform.
Brick says given the current unemployment rate in Colorado and the nation the best solution is in having fewer illegal immigrants competing for jobs.
"The Colorado Alliance for Immigration Reform is still looking for immigration reduction," Brick said.
President Obama's immigration reform plan also includes provision for increased border security and enhanced employee verification and penalties for employers who hire illegal immigrants.
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