Legislation that would provide a road map to citizenship for an estimated 11 million Americans here illegally was endorsed Wednesday by local progressive groups.

“We think this is a major step forward. It will bring these people out of the shadows where they have been living too long,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina.

The proposed immigration reform will benefit the local economy in areas such as construction, hospitality, agriculture, shipping and the emerging high-tech corridor. It will also mean increased tax revenue from legal workers, she said.

“The time has come and we are behind comprehensive immigration reform,” Middleton said.

The 844-page immigration bill, unveiled last Thursday, has bipartisan support from eight U.S. Senators, including Republican Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. It is designed to secure the border while allowing tens of thousands of new high-and low-skilled workers into the country. Employers would be required to verify their legal status.

Kenneth Riley, AFL-CIO president in South Carolina, praised the legislation.

“We strongly support this push and we applaud those who are working to make history on this. This is about real people, hardworking people,” Riley said.

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