Calif. family with "mixed" immigration status eager for Obama reforms

Brother and sister Jaime and Diana Colin came to America from Mexico as children. Their parents have been illegally living in the U.S. for 22 years.
CBS News

(CBS News) LOS ANGELES - On Tuesday, President Obama laid out what would be the most sweeping reform of immigration law in decades. it would include a pathway to citizenship for the 11 million illegal immigrants who already live in America. Here's how he described his plan in Las Vegas:

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on immigration reform at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas, January 29, 2013. Obama Tuesday hailed a "genuine desire" among warring politicians to pursue immigration reform, ahead of a speech laying out his own approach to the politically fiery issue. JIM WATSON / AFP / Getty Images

"We've got to lay out a path -- a process that includes passing a background check, paying taxes, paying a penalty, learning English, and then going to the back of the line behind all the folks who are trying to come here legally, that's only fair. So that means it won't be a quick process, but it will be a fair process. And it will lift these individuals out of the shadows and give them a chance to earn their way to a green card and eventually to citizenship."

President Obama also called for stronger enforcement on the borders. His plan is similar to a bill that both Democrats and Republicans are introducing in the Senate. This may be the best chance for immigration reform in decades. It would mean a lot of families would not live in fear of being split up.

Jaime Colin helps his mother Lupe at one of the family's two dry cleaners in Southern California.

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"My parents have worked so hard," he said. "Everything I am, everything my sister is -- we owe to them."

The Colin family's immigration status is complicated. Jaime and his sister Diana were brought from Mexico as children. President Obama's deferred action program allows them to stay for work and school. Their younger siblings were born in the U.S. But their parents have been here illegally for 22 years.

Their father declined to appear on camera. Lupe Colin said they employ five workers and have earned a path to citizenship. "I have my own business," she said. "I am living here like an American citizen because I pay the taxes."

Added Diana Colin: "We're aspiring citizens. Obama promised us immigration reform."

What would these changes in immigration policy mean for the Colin family? "We would be more secure, we don't have to live with the fear of being deported, having our family torn apart," Jaime Colin said.

"That's the calculation that they made when they came into the country illegally," said Jack Martin of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a group that lobbies for strict immigration enforcement. "They've been in the country breaking the law all that period of time. And that should earn them no priority with regard to people who have been waiting outside the country

He said allowing the Colins to stay in the U.S. is no more effective at stopping illegal immigration than a 1986 law that allowed three million illegal immigrants to apply for legal immigrant status.

"We now have 11 or 12 million illegal aliens in the country," said Martin. "Instead of cutting down on illegal immigration, it led to an increase."

As for those say her family should get to the back of the line, Diana Colin responded: "We have been here as aspiring citizens for 22 years. Is that the back of the line? What is the back of the line?"

The Colin family believes the political muscle Hispanic showed at the polls in November will push Democrats and Republicans to actually pass immigration reform with a path to citizenship this year.