ANDERSON — Janett Orozco's feet were sore by the time she reached the front of the Anderson City Building on Monday afternoon.
It was nothing compared to the difficult path the 16-year-old said she's had to walk as an undocumented citizen from an immigrant family.
Orozco and 10 others from similar backgrounds completed a four-day, 50-mile walk that took them from Indianapolis to Anderson. The walk was meant to be symbolic of their desired path to citizenship, a path they hope will be clearer if an immigration reform bill currently in the U.S. House of Representatives is passed.
The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act, also known as H.R. 15, was passed by the Senate in June. The bill is a sweeping overhaul to immigration law that provides current undocumented immigrants with a pathway to citizenship and doubles the size of the border patrol.
"I'm here to tell my story," Orozco said. "I'm 16. My family and I came here when I was very young. Indiana has been my home for 15 years, and it's all I know. I consider myself an American. Yet, I'm still called an illegal, and it's difficult. That's something a lot of people don't understand. It puts up a lot of barriers. In education, in getting a driver's license, working. We need to fix immigration."
The pilgrims, as they called themselves, met with about 100 supporters at the City Building and urged them to contact U.S. Rep. Susan Brooks, R-5th District, and ask her to endorse the bill. The act, which was drafted in the Democrat-controlled Senate, recently picked up support from Rep. David Valadao, R-Calif. But Valadao is only the third Republican representative to lend his support. With the 218 votes required to pass and 231 Republicans in the House, the bill is still expected to fall well short of the needed support.