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I would first like to thank Ultimas Noticias for dedicating a column to the important issue of immigration, and look forward to sharing information with all of you each week. My name is Shirley Sadjadi and I am an immigration attorney with offices in Elgin and Aurora, Illinois, and have been practicing immigration law for over 20 years.

I am the daughter of immigrants. I am married to an immigrant. I represent immigrants every day. I have tremendous respect for their unfailing spirit and strong work ethic. I have personally witnessed the positive economic and cultural impact they have on the United States.

For all of these reasons, I am dedicating my first column to immigration reform and your role in it. We have never been this close to providing a path to citizenship for the approximately 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the United States. The time is now, but we can’t do it without your help.

You can help by contacting your congressperson. To find out who represents you, just visit www.house.gov and put in your address. Once you have your representative’s information, call or email him or her EVERY DAY. Ask your representative to support comprehensive immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship. Tell your friends, family members and coworkers to do the same. If you don’t contact them, they will hear only from those against immigration reform.

And speak up if someone tells you that we need to enforce our existing laws first. Enforcing our existing laws is not the answer because the laws that currently exist are precisely the problem. Believe it or not, the government IS enforcing the laws – thousands are caught trying to enter the U.S. illegally each year, and hundreds of thousands are deported each year. The last big immigration law that was approved in 1997 only INCREASED our undocumented population because it only included enforcement.

The U.S. Senate recognized the failure of our current system and passed a bipartisan comprehensive immigration bill that would grant provisional resident status to individuals who have lived in the United States since 2011, who are not guilty of a felony or three misdemeanors, and who have not unlawfully voted in the United States. The bill also includes border security provisions and improvements in our employment based immigration system for future permanent and temporary workers, something severely lacking in our current system. Now we just need the U.S. House of Representatives to do the same.

We cannot lose. We must win. We must change the law. Our nation needs a common sense policy that keeps families together, rebuilds our economy, strengthens our security, and provides legal status and the prospect of citizenship for aspiring new Americans.

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