LatinoJustice PRLDEF Supports Executive Action on Immigration, but Calls on Government to Do More

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 19, 2014

CONTACT: John Garcia, Director of Communications, 212-739-7513, 917-673-9095 or jgarcia@latinojustice.org.

President Obama’s decision to use his executive powers to grant relief to millions of undocumented immigrants is a historic and welcome step. Indeed, it is what he promised to do and what we expected from our President.

Unfortunately, the executive action does not go far enough to provide safety to all people living in fear of deportation and leaves to another day the question about provided basic government services and benefits, like affordable health care, to his important sector of the U.S. population.

According to the president, he will use his executive powers to provide relief for up to five million undocumented immigrants who are in the United States and to shield them from deportation. His action would still leave more than 6 million undocumented people in the shadows and living in fear of being taken from their homes and families.

“President Obama demonstrated leadership and made an important step to improve and change the lives of millions of immigrant families and workers,” said Juan Cartagena, President and General Counsel, LatinoJustice PRLDEF. “Despite that the president did not go far enough and we will not stop working until there is a permanent solution for everyone to live without fear of deportation. We will continue to fight for all 11 million people. We will defend this action against attacks by anti-immigrants who want to derail and hold back immigrant families from achieving the American Dream.”

Advocates point out that the president’s actions are temporary and limited in scope. There is no legalization process, only a deferral from deportation.

The president has urged Congress to pass a more comprehensive overhaul of immigration laws that could provide a way for immigrants to become citizens eventually, but political roadblocks in Congress have prevented such an action. Every president since Dwight Eisenhower, including Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush have taken similar action to protect immigrants.

“It has been a long time since the Reagan initiatives to normalize the status of our country’s undocumented population in 1986,” Cartagena said. “America has shown that it continues to need immigrant labor and immigrant small business initiatives to help our economy. So it was high time for another president to provide a step towards normalization of status for so many contributing and productive members of our Latino communities.”

The action follows the president’s 2012 policy on Dreamers, “deferred action” initiative for unauthorized youth who were brought to this country as children. This initiative offers a two-year, renewable reprieve from deportation to unauthorized immigrants who are under the age of 31 and entered the United States before age 16.

Cesar Vargas, a J.D. and Co-director of the DREAM Action Coalition, also expressed cautious optimism that the president’s decision would bring some relief to friends, family and others who have lived in fear of being deported.

“With this announcement, I am filled with joy that my mother will no longer live in fear of being deported and separated from her children and grandchildren,” Vargas said. “However, this is a partial win as many other parents will remain in the shadows. We stand with the President to defend this from the anti-immigrant extremists but he must truly go 'as far as he can' on immigration as Domestic Policy Director Cecilia Munoz has said. President can and must go further like providing deportation relief to parents of dreamers, allow Dreamers into the military.”

LatinoJustice PRLDEF · 99 Hudson Street 14th Floor · New York, NY 10013-2815 · P: 212.219.3360 · 800.328.2322 · F: 212.431.4276

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