Protesters gather to voice immigration concerns during VP Pence - WSMV News 4

Protesters gather to voice immigration concerns during VP Pence visit

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Protesters voiced their opposition to the current plans for immigration reform. (WSMV) Protesters voiced their opposition to the current plans for immigration reform. (WSMV)
NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Protesters on immigration greeted Vice President Mike Pence Thursday as he and thousands of attendees arrived to the Music City Center for the Tennessee Republican Party's Annual Statesmen's Dinner.

A large group showed up to let Pence know they don't agree with the current plans for immigration reform, including Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA. It's an Obama-era law that allows immigrants who arrived to the United States as young children to obtain a work permit, attend college and join the workforce.

For Aurora Padilla, Nashville is home.

"I just recently graduated from MLK (High School), so I will be attending college this incoming fall," Padilla said.

She feels her future hangs in the balance because she receives DACA. She and her family came from Mexico 15 years ago.

The Trump White House wants to rollback several immigration policies, and the latest Senate bill endorsed by the president Wednesday is called the RAISE Act, or Reforming American Immigration for Strong Employment.

"This competitive application process will favor applicants who can speak English, financially support themselves and their families, and demonstrate skills that will contribute to our economy," said President Donald Trump.

On Thursday, 97 people got English language certificates, immigrants that some argue wouldn't have a chance.

"These are people from very diverse backgrounds, lawyers, doctors, engineers, dentists, people who came to this country speaking little or no English," said Andres Martinez, of Conexión Américas.

Senators who support the bill said it brings the focus back on U.S. workers and the economy. Lisa Sherman-Nikolaus works to resettle refugees and help immigrants in Tennessee, and she thinks the bill would do the opposite.

"I think we've seen in Nashville that diversity is our strength and we really value the work that foreign-born workers bring to this city," said Sherman-Nikolaus, the policy director for Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.

The RAISE Act targets legal immigration, and the White House said it would make the process fairer.

It's a controversial bill that has been criticized by Republican and Democrat Congress members.

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