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Fernanda Santos, Bureau Chief, NY Times Southwest
Andres Ramirez, President of the Ramirez Group
BY MARIE ANDRUSEWICZ -- It’s an inversion of the “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” rule.  Under the “Gang of Eight” reforms, immigrants seeking a path to citizenship will find opportunities based on their qualifications, not on their connections.

“These days most of the visas that are given to people that lead them to eventually become citizens are given because these people have ties to citizen in the United States – family ties,” says New York Times Reporter Fernanda Santos. “In the future, the idea is to use the immigration system to fill in holes that exist in the job market here in the United States.”

This would open opportunities for skilled workers, particularly in the tech industry, as well as farm laborers.

“Many if not most of the laborers on farms these days are undocumented immigrants, so this is a recognition that there’s a need to maintain the level of labor and that it is indeed immigrants that provide most of that labor.”

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Political consultant Andres Ramirez says Nevada has undocumented immigrants at both ends of the labor spectrum – people employed in the casino and service industry as well as tech workers.

“There’s a story in the Sun about a start-up company downtown,” says Ramirez. “They came from England, so every few months they have to spend tens of thousands of dollars traveling back to England.”

Santos says that in addition to switching the emphasis to work qualifications, the proposed reforms feature compromises to please lawmakers of both parties – benchmarks have been established for border security, which is a Republican concern, and immigrants who have been deported on non-criminal grounds could apply for a green card if they have family in this country, which is a win for the left.

“Nobody is going to be fully happy about this bill, but it will at least try to address the concerns that all the different groups have had,” says Santos.