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Street Smarts

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Most Americans' ancestors came here from foreign shores. But while immigration is part of so many of our individual stories, today there's an undeniable "us vs. them" vibe to this realm of political debate.

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Bill Hazelton of the Patty Jewett area is a marketing specialist

How important an issue is immigration? It affects business, it affects our culture. It's a way of keeping labor costs down, and that affects everybody.

Do you know your family's immigration history? They came over here very early from Germany and England.

What would your family have done if Native Americans put up and patrolled a fence to keep immigrants out? Given the conditions they fled from, they'd probably have tried to find a way around it.

How would you address this issue? People should have to qualify to come in. They can't just sneak in and then insist they're entitled to stay.

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Derek Bell of the Divine Redeemer neighborhood is in the Army

How important an issue is immigration? Very big. Illegal immigrants take jobs away from true American citizens.

What's your family's immigration history? One side came from Scotland, another from England, in the 1800s.

Does immigration affect you personally? It does indirectly. Some of our present economic problems are linked to illegal immigration. They get benefits everyone else has to pay for.

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Megan Thompson of central Colorado Springs is a student

Describe the main immigration issue. All people should be able to come here legally, but illegals are creating suffering by taking away benefits from natural citizens.

What's your family immigration story? My dad's side is from Scotland. My mom's side were Russian Jews who came here just prior to World War II.

What comes to mind when you hear the word "immigrant"? My grandparents escaping oppression to come here in pursuit of a dream.

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Bonnie Noufer of Manitou Springs is a student/executive assistant

Relate your family's immigration history. My mom's side is largely Native American, so they probably came here over the Bering Strait. Her great-grandfather was a Czechoslovakian mob boss who came here to escape the law after he beat a man to death in a spaghetti restaurant with his cane. Another strand of the family came here from Ireland around the time of the potato famine, but not because of that.

What does the word "immigrant" bring to mind? Everybody on the Mayflower was an immigrant. Even Native Americans came here from somewhere else.

How should we address this issue? By streamlining the naturalization process and documenting those already here on an individual basis.

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