Filipino Immigrant Seeks U.S. Citizenship - 8 News NOW

Filipino Immigrant Seeks U.S. Citizenship

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LAS VEGAS -- Nevada Reps. Dina Titus and Steven Horsford attended a special town hall at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on Wednesday.

The town hall is focusing on immigration reform and how it impacts Asian-American Pacific Islanders, one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in Nevada.

At 7 years old, a woman attending the conference who asked to be called "Anna," came to the United States from her native Philippines and fell in love almost immediately.

"I remember the first thing I ate was frosted flakes cereal and this was amazing," Anna said. "It was so American, whatever that means."

But Anna isn't an American citizen and, 15 years after arriving in the U.S., is living in the country illegally.

"I just remain optimistic towards the whole thing, and that's just what kept me going," Anna said, adding that she hopes to one day become a citizen.

UNLV associate law professor Michael Kagan also runs the immigration clinic at the university, where low-income immigrants can receive legal help to remain in the U.S.

"There are 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S., and one in 10 of those are Asians," Kagan said.

Kagan said that although Hispanics receive a lot of attention in the immigration debate, Asian-American Pacific Islanders have become a fast-growing ethnic group that seeks to benefit from comprehensive immigration reform.

"(Reform includes) ways to speed up the process and let families stay together while they are waiting for more permanent status," Kagan said.

T years ago, Anna's family helped bail her out of a detention facility after she was caught by border officials in California for not having proper immigration papers.

She has now applied for a program so she is able to live and work in the U.S. temporarily.

"I just focused my energy on school and hoping for the best," Anna said.

Anna wants to be a nurse and just graduated from the College of Southern Nevada, but legally, she can't work.

In the meantime, Anna is advocating for immigration reform, hoping to one day fulfill her dream of becoming an American citizen.

The town hall on immigration reform is open to the public and runs until 9 p.m. Wednesday at UNLV's Greenspun Hall.

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