Impact of Obama's immigration reform on Churchill Downs - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

Impact of Obama's immigration reform on Churchill Downs

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Djenita Pasic Djenita Pasic

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – Law abiding immigrant workers may have a better chance at becoming U.S. citizens under President Barack Obama's plan.

Every year, hundreds of licensed immigrants work on the backside of Churchill Downs and would benefit from portions of the President's proposal. Churchill Downs and contract employees, hired by trainers, are licensed by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. 

The KHRC requires migrant workers to provide documentation and identification in order to secure a license, according to vice president of Racing Communications John Asher.

Asher said the new law will not affect the track's business model because trainers hire their own employees. President Obama's reform means the hired help may not have as much red tape to go through to become a U.S. citizen.

Attorney Djenita Pasic claims Louisville's economy is missing out on millions because of archaic, failed policies that hurt legal immigrants.

"In Louisville, at Churchill Downs, a huge market would open and we would have a much better understanding between the employer and the worker," Pasic said.

Often, migrant workers leave Louisville because their documentation won't allow them to stay permanently.

"We have a lot of highly qualified individuals who've come from other countries who do not have the opportunity to stay in this country for a longer period of time," Pasic said.

There are four pillars to the President's plan, beginning with what President Barack Obama calls an ‘earned path to citizenship,' so they can pay taxes and contribute even more to the economy.

President Obama also calls for streamlining the legal system, additional border security and enforcing employment laws.

Pasic said Obama's process would weed out those who are trouble.

"They would need to pay fees, possible penalties and back taxes, if any.  In addition, [immigrants] would undergo a criminal background check, national security background check and then they would be placed into the system to go through the citizenship path as well," Pasic said.

President Obama's reform also calls for U.S. citizens to learn English.

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