Huddled masses

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Osang says that "the problem is that there is no lobby for change, since immigrants don't vote, and once they get their green card, they are so happy, they forget all about it."

Still, in his last State of the Union address, President Clinton said his budget proposal would "expand significantly" the efforts to chip away at the backlog of people waiting to become American citizens.

"Our new immigrants must be part of our 'One America'" he said. "We have a responsibility to make them welcome here, and they have the responsibility to enter the mainstream of American life."

Boero agrees, though she adds that "If this country wants us to be legal, it has to give us a chance to be legal. We want to go by the rules, but look at what they put us through. These big lines in the middle of the night, it is not something a civilized country wants to have in its cities.

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Juliana Barbassa