Immigration reform gains bipartisan support

Bend attorney urges: Make it more streamlined

POSTED: 11:55 PM PST January 29, 2013    UPDATED: 11:55 PM PST January 29, 2013 
BEND, Ore. -

Strong words from President Obama Tuesday as the U.S. looks to reform immigration law.

"I'm here today because the time has come for common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. The time is now," said President Obama.

The latest try at reform could be the closest thing yet to a bipartisan effort on the contentious issue. Many say it's a promising sign for immigrants hoping to work, or stay in the U.S.

On Monday, a group of U.S. senators unveiled their own immigration proposal. Many Americans remain deeply divided on the plans, while some Republicans on Capitol Hill warn about a partisan approach.

"If his intentions are to trigger a bidding war to see who can come up with the easiest process, this is not a good start," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. "But let's give him the benefit of the doubt."

In the plan introduced by Congress, both parties agreed that to get a green card and years later citizenship, undocumented immigrants would need to register with the Federal Government, pay fines and back taxes, undergo criminal background checks and learn English.

To garner conservative support the new reform -- promises to strengthen security. More border patrol agents and aerial drone surveillance. The government would track temporary visas to reduce staying past deadlines and would create a new employment verification system.

Bend immigration attorney Callie Gautreaux agrees with the idea of reform and says something needs to be done.

"It could definitely be an improvement, to make it more streamlined in a sense," said Gautreaux.

She says there is a stigma around who's an immigrant and who's not. In our growing economy, she feels we're encouraging future business leaders to stay quiet or leave.

"We have math and science scholars that can not segue from their student visas into some permanent residency," said Gautreaux. "These are the people who are going to be entrepreneurs and starting small business."

With immigration reform on the president's and lawmakers' priority list, many are hopeful this time around it won't be just a patch, but a real fix.

Be sure to vote in our new KTVZ.COM Poll on the issue, which you can find halfway down the right side of our home page.