Bradenton teenager presses Buchanan for immigration reform

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SARASOTA - People who want Congress to change the country's immigration laws brought their campaign to the Suncoast, and to U.S. Representative Vern Buchanan's office, Friday. While it marks just one stop in a national campaign, it centered on a young lady from Bradenton, who would like to become one of Buchanan's constituents.

Maria Quesada repeats her comments to a crowd outside the Federal building in downtown Sarasota in Spanish. Don't  be fooled by the language, she says. Or the lack of proper paperwork. “Whether they say that I'm American or not because, to me, I'm fully American.

The 18-year-old came from Mexico with her parents when she was 8. She graduated from Manatee High School, got accepted to college, but lives under laws that say she does not belong here. Could she get sent back to a country she hardly knows? “Yes, I still could,” Quesada says.

For people like her, other people protest the lack of action on immigration reform, and Buchanan's lack of support for it.

The U.S. Senate has passed a reform bill. But the bill has run into stiff opposition in the Republican-controlled House. Before gathering outside, members of the group called Standing on the Side of love met with members of Buchanan's staff inside. “These 11 million people who are currently inside our borders, they're not going to go away,” says Rev. Mike Young, pastor at the Unitarian Universialist Congregation in Venice. “This is a problem that we have to deal with.”

Buchanan's office in Washington said that the house will pursue a bill, and quoted the congressman as saying, “it is crucial that we secure the border, enforce the laws already on the books and expand employment-based immigration to attract skilled professionals.”

That would do little for people like Quesada, who says reform considered in Congress now will do more than the 1986 immigration overhaul that granted amnesty for undocumented people, but did little else. “It's not amnesty,” she says. “Everyone that applies will have to learn English. They'll have to pay taxes. In all due truth, they say, 'we actually want to pay taxes.'"