ALIPAC: Deferred action inspires dream for Hoke County gradDeferred action inspires dream for Hoke County grad
Staff writer Fayettville Observer
By Ali Rockett
July 1, 2012
RAEFORD - Wendy Guerrero is like most typical American teens.
The 19-year-old Hoke County High School graduate works at a bakery, goes to the movies with friends and attends church.
But there is one big difference between her and millions of other U.S. teens - one that makes her dream of attending college just out of reach.
Guerrero is not a legal citizen of the country she has called home since she was in the third grade.
But with President Obama's announcement two weeks ago of deferred action for undocumented young people, Guerrero and her family believe she is one step closer to her goal.
"My dream is to be a teacher," Guerrero said.
Under Obama's executive order, which was effective immediately, immigrants who are younger than 30 and arrived in the U.S. illegally before they were 16, and have been in this country for at least five continuous years, would be allowed to apply for work permits as long as they have no criminal history and graduated from a U.S. high school, earned the equivalent of a diploma or served in the military.
The move bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the DREAM Act, legislation that would have provided a pathway to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who went to college or served in the military.
Guerrero said she meets all the criteria and plans to apply for a work permit, which will allow her to work her way through college.
She said her younger brother also will apply but has not graduated yet.
According to immigration experts, the new policy also applies to those currently in school.
Once she no longer has to worry about deportation, she said, her parents plan to move back to Mexico to join Guerrero's other brother who was deported in 2007.
With a permit, Guerrero said, she will be able to travel outside the U.S without fear of being captured if she tries to re-enter.
"My parents, they brought us here so we could have a better education, better food, home, and so that we wouldn't lack anything," Guerrero said. "They did it to give me and my brothers a chance, not for themselves. That's why we stay."
While Guerrero and the nearly 800,000 other undocumented immigrants affected by Obama's declaration hope this is a step toward more permanent immigration reform, the president said that the action "is not a path to citizenship," but rather a way to "focus our immigration enforcement resources."
"This is not amnesty, this is not immunity," he said June 15. "It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven patriotic young people.
"It is the right thing to do," Obama said.
While supporting the decision, many immigrants have more questions than answers.
"People are right to be nervous," said Crystal Williams, executive director of American Immigration Layers Association, during a conference call with reporters last week. "There is a lot still up in the air."
Williams said she has heard concerns from people who believe they qualify but worry they would be targeted for deportation if the administration changes.
Parents of undocumented youngsters who qualify also fear that they will be deported if their children provide information about their illegal status.
Even more questions are raised by conservatives and anti-immigration groups that strongly oppose the action.
William Gheen, president of Americans for Legal Immigration Political Action Committee in Raleigh, said his group opposes Obama's action because it opens flood gates for anyone who wants to enter the country illegally. "I think the most immediate impact will be for people under 30, which already has a high unemployment rate," Gheen said. "Because Obama's chosen ones will have work permits."
Gheen expects that undocumented immigrants eligible for the work permits will flood the job market, taking jobs from unemployed young Americans and depreciating wages for those who do have a job. "This dictatorial decree rewards those that came to this country illegally," Gheen said. "What message does that send to the rest of the world?"
Gheen called the president's use of prosecutorial discretion, or allocating resources to those who pose an immediate threat, an act of a dictator because it bypasses Congress.
The DREAM Act, and similar immigration reforms, have failed in Congress six times. Gheen said his group took an active role in defeating them.
Obama is not the first president to use an executive order to implement immigration reform. In 1994, President Clinton offered expedited naturalization for non-citizens who served during the Gulf War. In 2002, President George W. Bush did the same for non-citizens who served in the war on terrorism.
Father Michael Shugrue pastor at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Fayetteville, whose congregation includes about 500 Hispanics, said American Catholic bishops have long supported legislative reform to fix what he and Obama call a "broken immigration system."
"This is a welcomed step," Shugrue said. "But only a small temporary step."
Shugrue said he has seen substantial growth in the number of people who attend the 1:30 p.m. Sunday Mass, which is delivered in Spanish.
"Until such comprehensive legislation is passed by Congress, the dream for these and millions of other immigrants is still a dream deferred," Shugrue said.This article was originally published in forum thread: ALIPAC: Deferred action inspires dream for Hoke County grad started by ALIPAC View original post