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11:55am — Latino Groups To Hold Town Hall

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Immigration reformers meet tonight in Las Cruces.

In what could be seen as a counter-hearing to a U.S. House committee hearing scheduled in Las Cruces later this week, a coalition of Latino and other groups plans tonight to hear "real stories of the impact immigration policy has on the citizens of `la frontera.’"

An immigration reform town hall will be held at 6:30 p.m. today at the Henry R. Benavidez Community Center, 1045 McClure Ave., Las Cruces. Titled "The Untold Stories of Life on the Border," the forum is sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), People for the American Way and Hispano Round Table of New Mexico, according a flier announcing the event.

The purpose of tonight’s forum is "educational," but also to "demand" that the U.S. House of Representatives go along with a Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill "that unites families," according to a news release from LULAC-NM state director Paul Martinez.

Martinez said any comprehensive reform "secures the borders, but at the same time provides avenues to those that qualify to obtain permanent residency and ultimately citizenship."

That, according to critics of the bill passed earlier this year by the U.S. Senate — many of whom are in the U.S. House, which passed a tough, enforcement-only bill last December, is another way of saying "amnesty" for illegal immigrants.

As it happens, the House is holding a series of committee hearings around the country this month, aimed at raising questions about some provisions of the Senate bill and about what should be included in genuinely comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

One of the early meetings is scheduled to take place in Las Cruces on Thursday, when the nine-member House Administration Committee will take testimony on illegal immigrants who vote in U.S. elections illegally, according to this story from The Associated Press.

The hearing is scheduled to be held at Memorial Medical Center and is a follow-up to a hearing on the issue held June 22 in Washington, D.C., a committee spokeswoman told the Las Cruces Sun-News last week.

The committee, which has no New Mexicans on the panel, will hold a similar hearing in Phoenix later Thursday, the Sun-News reported.

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