California's reaction to Obama's impending immigration action ranges from joy to outrage


News of President Barack Obama's impending executive action on immigration reform sparked excitement and hope among advocates but outrage among opponents across California.

Obama will address the nation at 5 p.m. PST on Thursday to outline actions he says he's taking because Congress won't.

The House's GOP leadership has refused to take up a bipartisan immigration-reform bill that the Senate approved in June 2013.

On Friday, the president will fly to Las Vegas to speak at Del Sol High School, "where he laid out his principles for commonsense, comprehensive immigration reform nearly two years ago," the White House announced.

Obama will act to shield about 5 million undocumented immigrants from deportation, according to reports published Wednesday by the New York Times and Politico. About four million will be eligible for temporary protective status, and another one million through other means.

News reports said protection will be given to those whose children are U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents and who have been living in the country for a period of time with no criminal records. Those covered by the order might be able to get work permits, but will not qualify for coverage under the nation's new health care law.

No protection will be afforded to people just because they're farm workers, or parents who brought their children here illegally. Those undocumented children, often called "Dreamers," were covered by a similar action Obama took in 2012.

"We are all hoping and praying that the president makes decisions that allow long-time members of the American community to come out of the shadows, and to make even more contributions to the nation," said Mickie Luna, a vice president of the League of United Latino American Citizens. who said she intends to be at home with her family recording the address for posterity.

"It's about time. Promises were made and they inspire and motivate the Latino community to come out and vote," she said. "Immigration is an across-the-board issue. It's not just about Mexicans coming over the border from Mexico. It's about all kinds of people coming from all over the world through all the borders."

The action is long overdue, agreed Anoop Prasad, senior staff attorney for immigrant rights at the Asian Law Caucus in San Francisco.

"In some ways this decision came fast" after the midterm elections, he said, "but in other ways we have been waiting over a year and a half as this move has been delayed for one reason or another. Obama should have already taken action on this."

Prasad said his organization's phone has been ringing off the hook. "Right now there is a lot of excitement in the immigrant communities about those who will be helped and included, but also some sadness about those who will be left out. People have been calling asking us: 'What is true?' 'What is not?' Everyone wants to know what we know."

Other advocates also said the pending actions fall short in certain ways.

"Not including the parents of the Dreamers is a huge disappointment," said Catherine Tactaquin, executive director of the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights in Oakland. "That provision was expected and seemed like a natural component to set in motion. Not having parents included and leaving them as highly deportable is a loss of a great opportunity."

Tactaquin said advocates have been urging Obama to take executive action since 2009, yet "this will leave out more than half of the undocumented workers from a temporary reprieve. What will happen to those families? Will they become super-deportable?"

She also cited a call for increased border security. "That is bad news for border communities already living under militarized conditions. The U.S. is already funneling people into dangerous terrain and through border communities where there is lot of harassment, abuse and racial profiling by the Border Patrol."

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