Local Cuban immigrant reacts to possible immigration reform - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Local Cuban immigrant reacts to possible immigration reform

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LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

A bipartisan group of eight United States senators recently reached an agreement on the nation's first sweeping immigration reform bill in nearly 30 years. Adlina Ortiz, a local Cuban immigrant, reacts to the progress of Congress. 

"I stayed beyond my visa requirements and therefore, I was illegal ... what they consider an illegal immigrant," Ortiz said. 

Ortiz immigrated from Cuba in the early 1980's. She was considered "illegal" just before legislation in 1986 provided amnesty for immigrants who met certain requirements, including coming to the US before 1982.  

"I had just entered in 1980 and met the requirements; I was working, I paid my bills, I had everything that they required me to provide for them," said Ortiz.

The Border Security, Economic Opportunity and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 is the result of an agreement by a group of eight bipartisan senators and is the first piece of legislation that offers a pathway to citizenship similar to the one Ortiz benefited from in the 80s. 

She believes the bill's plan to help immigrants become citizens is promising. 

"They (immigrants) come here to the United States because they want a better life for their families, for themselves and to be able to provide for the families," she said. 

Acknowledging President Ronald Reagan's role in the 1980s reform, Ortiz believes President Obama's role this time around has to be just as strong. 

"They need the President to back it 100 percent ... the senators and congressman need to come to one accord," Ortiz said.  

There have been many different accords, with critics of immigration reform believing opportunity is taken away from Americans when immigrants are allowed the resources and benefits of citizenship. But Ortiz said it's important now more than ever, even if only for the children. 

"There are many children here who are in the school system and who are going to school and they really should be able to continue their education in the universities and have a career for their lives," Ortiz said. 

Read the bill in its entirety here.

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