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Immigration Groups Continue To Pressure Rep. Wagner

Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio.

Pro-immigration reform groups are continuing to put pressure on Congresswoman Ann Wagner (R-St. Louis County). About 15 people rallied Monday in Kirkwood, calling for her to address comprehensive immigration reform.

Several people spoke at the rally. Some shared stories of being separated from family members after deportation, while others spoke about not being able to leave the country for a loved one’s funeral.

Lawrence Nwachukwu heads Basilico Engineering, a firm in St. Louis. He said he’s been trying to get his siblings to legally emigrate from Nigeria.

“I apply for them, but it takes about 10 years. And 10 years is a long time!" Nwachukwu said. "We need to shorten that period – it should be six months to a year.”

Nwachukwu and the others are calling on Wagner to shorten the time it takes to legally immigrate, and to create a path to citizenship for those here illegally.

The Senate passed a bill in June that addressed these issues, but House leadership has declined to take that bill to a vote.

“We’ve been talking to people in her district for a long time, and I don’t think we have any question that her constituents support immigration reform," Vanessa Crawford Aragon with Mo. Immigrant and Refugee Advocates said.

"She has a lot of immigrants in her district, and a lot of people who realize that immigration reform is common sense,” Aragon said.

A new report out Monday finds that 63 percent of Americans support a pathway to citizenship for those here illegally.

In a written statement, Wagner’s office says the House shouldn’t rush to get a bill passed, and that she supports a piecemeal approach on immigration reform.

"The last thing the American people need is for Congress to repeat the mistakes of ObamaCare and rush broken legislation masked as a solution," a spokesperson for Wagner said.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter: @csmcdaniel