Douglas immigrant weighs in on President Obama’s plan for immigration reform

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DOUGLAS, Mich. -- On the heels of President Obama's plan to take executive action on immigration--allowing amnesty for up to five million undocumented immigrants--one Allegan County woman who claims she was the target of a hate crime because of her immigrant status is arguing more still needs to be done.

Yenory Ramirez, who has lived in Douglas for four years, came to the U.S. from Costa Rica in 1995. Carrying a copy of the Declaration of Independence in her wallet, she won't hesitate  to tell people how proud she is to live in the United States.

“I believe that all immigrants have the right to be here because this country is built on immigrants," Ramirez said.

“In this country, people take for granted what they have and they forget, when you come from a poor country you appreciate more and I think all immigrants come with that belief.”

While she supports the president's plan, Ramirez still feels more should be done to promote tolerance to welcome immigrants to the country, especially given a recent incident where she alleges she was verbally assaulted by a man in a downtown Douglas coffee shop because she is an immigrant.

"I said, 'Are you serious, you're telling me that?' and he said, 'F*** you,"' she said. "And he looked at me, and he says, 'You know what, go back to your poor country, you don’t deserve to be here.'"

Ramirez, who plans to become a full U.S. citizen next year, said she filed a report with the Douglas police department, which is currently investigating the situation to determine if charges can be filed.

“I feel devastated," she said. "I was in shock. It was an awful thing to say to someone."

“A lot of immigrants they don’t have a voice because they are afraid to speak, and they suffer a lot of hate."

Meanwhile, on the other side of the debate, opponents argue granting amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants is unnecessary and there should be a clear distinction made between immigrants who break the law and those who come to the country legally.

“The people who are coming now are mainly low-skilled," said Tamyra Murray, founder of Michiganders for Immigration Control and Enforcement (MICE). "All we’re doing is importing more poor people by the president doing this."

“I’m just wondering what’s going to happen now, is Congress going to do their job, or are they going to sit back like they have been doing?”

Murray argues reform isn't necessary and, more importantly, the president shouldn't be bypassing Congress on such a major national issue.

“The problem now is our laws are not enforced," she said. "We’re taking everything away from the real citizens and giving it to people who aren’t even Americans.”

Read more about the president's sweeping overhaul of the immigration system here.

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