Undocumented Pair Hopes for "Best News Ever" at Obama Immigration Speech

President Barack Obama begins his push for immigration reform in Las Vegas

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Students and community leaders are expected to gather in Downtown LA, while others travel to Las Vegas in anticipation of hearing the President's immigration speech. NBC4's Annette Arreola reports on "Today in LA." This clip is from "Today in LA" on January 29, 2013.

    Luis Barajas and Maria Galvan were part of a group from Southern California that left early Tuesday for Las Vegas to hear what they hope will be the "best news ever."

    They plan to hear President Barack Obama talk about his immigration reform plan during a campaign-style event at 11:55 a.m. Tuesday in Las Vegas.

    Undocumented Pair Hopes for "Best News Ever" in Obama Speech

    [LA] Undocumented Couple Hopes for "Best News Ever" From Obama Announcement
    Luis Barajas and Maria Galvan are traveling to Las Vegas to attend President Barack Obama's immigration reform announcement Tuesday. The couple has been working for years to become American citizens, and say the process is harder than anyone realizes. John Cádiz Klemack reports for the NBC4 News at 6 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2013.

    Click here at 11:55 a.m. for live coverage.

    "There's a possibility that this time is the knockout round," said Angelica Salas, of the Coalition for Human Rights-LA. "So you go up and you fight -- that's what we're doing."

    Barajas and Galvan left Van Nuys for Del Sol High School in Las Vegas early Tuesday in a van. They have been working for years to become American citizens.

    The process is harder than anyone realizes, they told NBC4.

    "We hope to hear the best news ever," said Barajas. "I have to pay taxes. I do it like any other citizen."

    President Obama already outlined his immigration reform approach in May 2011, but little action followed.

    "He is in the White House because of the backing of his constituency, and then he was about to lose them," said Salas.

    Nationally, Obama won 71 percent of the Hispanic vote -- a key advantage over Republican Mitt Romney in the November election. 

    The president's push begins a day after a bipartisan group of senators unveiled their own plan for addressing an issue that might come to define Obama's second term. The president is expected to largely endorse the senators' efforts, but immigration rights advocates have said they hope his proposals include a faster pathway to citizenship.

    Obama's previous proposals for creating a pathway to citizenship required those already in the U.S. illegally to register with the government and submit to security checks; pay registration fees, a series of fines and back taxes; and learn English. After eight years, individuals would be allowed to become legal permanent residents and could eventually become citizens five years later.

    The Senate group's pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants already in the U.S. would be contingent upon securing the border and improving tracking of people in the U.S. on visas. Linking citizenship to border security could become a sticking point between the White House and lawmakers.

    The Senate framework would also require those here illegally to pass background checks and pay fines and taxes in order to qualify for a "probationary legal status'' that would allow them to live and work here _ but not qualify for federal benefits _ before being able to apply for permanent residency, a critical step toward citizenship. Once they are allowed to apply they would do so behind everyone else already waiting for a green card within the current immigration system.

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