Local immigrants react to Obama announcement
PHILADELPHIA - June 15, 2012 -- 800,000 illegal immigrants in the tri-state area and across the country are spending their first night ever without having to worry about being deported because of an executive order by President Obama Friday.
Obama announced that he was easing the country's immigration laws, an action with both substantive and political significance.
Effective immediately, illegal immigrants who were brought to this country before they were 16, who are still younger than 30, who have lived in the country for five continuous years, and who have no criminal record, can stay in the United States and work.
Obama explained what his policy is not.
"This is not amnesty; this is not immunity, this is not a permanent fix," said President Obama Friday.
But Republican Mitt Romney said that the move will make finding a long-term immigration solution more difficult.
Action News sampled the local reaction to this sudden change in immigration enforcement rules.
Reaction President Obama's immigration announcement was strong.
"We should have had a sensible immigration policy. We let people in because we wanted cheap work. We let them have children because that's the normal human thing to do. And now we're trying to penalize the kids for our lack of discipline," said Robert Berrier.
"I think if someone has been here that amount of time and they've worked like that, I think maybe they should stay," said Vicki Anterola.
At least 800,000 immigrants could be impacted, and 21 year old Cesar Marroquin is one of them.
Cesar's parents brought him to the United States from Lima, Peru when he was 9.
He is undocumented, but he is not hiding in the shadows and has chosen to be an activist fighting for the rights of illegal immigrants in the United States.
"A lot of non-profit organizations and advocacy organizations are really happy with this decision that he's made," said Cesar.
Cesar says the signing of an executive order is not enough, and he is looking for real reform to stop the deportation of young illegal immigrants. "What President Obama has done right now, right before the election, we know that it's very political as well," Cesar said.
The impact on the important Hispanic vote in crucial swing states could be huge.
Former Republican Presidential Candidate and Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum called it "political self-interest", and said "the President blatantly ignored our constitution, the role of congress in making laws, and the separation of powers."
Mitt Romney says the decision will make finding a long term solution more difficult.
"If I'm president, we will do our very best to have that kind of long term solution that provides certainty and clarity of the people who come into this country by no fault of their own by virtue of the acts of their parents," said Mitt Romney.
But Romney did not say if he would reverse the President's executive order if he was elected.
Next week in Florida, both will be addressing the National Association of Latino elected and appointed officials.
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