Oklahomans watch immigration reform plans from President Obama
10:26 PM, Feb 18, 2013
6:25 AM, Feb 19, 2013
TULSA - Immigration is front and center again after a plan from the White House goes public. The president's proposal isn't sitting well with Republicans.
Illegal immigrants here in Oklahoma are watching the plans closely. And so are our congressmen. Both say change is needed. They just don't agree on what kind.
Twenty-five-year-old college student Ivan Godinez calls Tulsa home. He's lived here for more than a decade and he's one of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States.
"I've always felt I was a U.S. citizen, even though I was undocumented. So that's definitely always been a dream of mine," Godinez said.
He moved one step closer to legal status a few months ago when President Obama allowed eligible youth to stay in the country and work legally.
"I was fortunate to be one of the people who got it, so I'm technically not undocumented anymore," Godinez said.
Now it appears the Obama administration wants to create a path for illegal immigrants to become legal, permanent U.S. residents within eight years.
News reports suggest it's the White House's "Plan B" if Congress doesn't act.
Republican Congressman Jim Bridenstine hasn't read the White House plan yet. But he says his stance on illegal immigration is clear.
"We absolutely have to have border security, that's the number one element of immigration reform. The other thing we want to make sure we do, is we don't want to reward people for breaking the law," Bridenstine said.
At a town hall Monday night in Owasso, Bridenstine told constituents issues like the debt limit and sequestration will likely take priority over immigration.
"So the question is, how much progress can we make on this particular issue, when we have really a lot of alligators that are closer to the canoe right now?" he said.
Godinez wants to see a path to citizenship. But he says the plans he's seen so far focus too much on border security.
"We are concerned that the conversation has focused mostly on enforcement. And unfortunately the current system is creating a lot of hardship on our families," he said.
Godinez believes it will take a bipartisan effort for a deal to get done.
"We hope and we believe that that's the only way immigration reform will pass," Godinez said.