SANTA MARIA VALLEY, Calif. - In his annual State of the Union Address, President Obama called on Congress to pass bi-partisan legislation for long-awaited, comprehensive federal immigration reform.
"It's time to heed the call of business leaders, labor leaders, faith leaders, law enforcement, and fix our broken immigration system", the President said to rousing applause in Tuesday night's speech, "independent economists say immigration reform will grow our economy and shrink our deficits by almost one trillion dollars in the next two decades."
"We need them", says Santa Maria immigration consultant Juan Marguez of the thousands of undocumented field workers currently living on the Central Coast, "if we don't have them we're not going to have food on the tables."
"Every single year people need to renew their Greed Card", Marquez says about the constant flow of people coming into his West Main Street office, "Green Cards are valid for only ten years so every ten years they need to renew that."
Marquez says immigration reform not only benefits those who seek it but also local agriculture, business and the U.S. Treasury.
"The Green Card renewal is $450, that they need to pay, naturalization is $680 that's what they need to pay to the government", Marquez says, "so all that money is going to come to the United States."
Santa Maria Valley farmers say federal immigration reform is vital to their economic future.
"In order to ensure that agriculture remains a viable economic boon to this area we have to know that we have a stable workforce", said Alexandra Allen of Main Street Produce to Central Coast News last month.
Juan Marquez says providing a legal path to work and live in the United States is still the American way.
"The people who came over on the Mayflower, they came over here to get a better future for them", Marquez says about undocumented workers seeking to remain legally, "that's what they are looking for, they are looking for a way of getting a better life, the American dream."