04/08/2013 01:54 pm ET

Immigration Reform: What The Last 'Path To Citizenship' Did For Immigrants

To some, steering a big yellow bus along the same city route day after day isn't a highly attractive career. But for Angelica Dimas, who illegally crossed the border into the United States from her native Tijuana, Mexico, in 1981, the opportunity to work as a bus driver in San Diego was a dream realized.

"I was so excited, so happy," she recalls, her voice tinged with pride. "I loved driving buses."

Initially, like countless other undocumented immigrants, Ms. Dimas worked below the legal radar, cleaning houses when she arrived in California at age 17. But five short years and many waxed floors later, when then-President Reagan passed the nation's first comprehensive immigration reform, Dimas filed an application to legalize her status. Along with her green card came the ability to finally get a driver's license, a bank account, a credit line – and the chance to get better jobs.

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