If Judith Huerta had been in Washington last week, she would have told senators stories of some of the undocumented immigrants she works with each day.
Instead, Huerta was in Oklahoma City, helping those undocumented immigrants process paperwork.
A recent graduate from Oklahoma City University, Huerta is an activist with DREAM Act Oklahoma, a group that advocates for young undocumented immigrants. Huerta works with undocumented immigrants, including helping them apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status.
Huerta was scheduled to go to Washington last week to lobby for immigration reform, but that trip was canceled due to logistical issues, she said.
Huerta said she's discouraged by the fact that Oklahoma's two senators oppose the immigration bill now before the Senate. But she hopes to see the bill succeed despite their opposition.
“I have to be optimistic,” she said.
Sens. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, and Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, have criticized the bill, particularly a provision that allows the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to determine when the nation's borders are secure enough to trigger a lengthy path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants already in the country.
As written, the bill requires the Department of Homeland Security to develop and implement a plan to secure the U.S.-Mexico border. Provisional legal status could be offered to immigrants living in the U.S. without documentation once the Homeland Security secretary certified those plans were in place.
Inhofe said he couldn't support the bill, saying it may weaken existing law.
“The Department of Homeland Security has already proven itself incapable of properly securing the border, and the arbitrary triggers in this proposal allow the administration to certify that the borders are secure without any oversight from Congress,” he said.
I think these kids are our kids now, and their success would be our success. Their failure would be our failure as a country.”
Senior research fellow for the Center for Immigration Studies