HYATTSVILLE, Md. (WUSA9) — Undocumented immigrants across the region are celebrating the president’s executive order while illegal immigration opponents are promising political payback.
Advocates estimate that there are half a million undocumented immigrants in Maryland, D.C. and Northern Virginia, and many of them are going to be listening carefully to President Obama’s speech.
From what we know so far, it looks like the executive order will grant about 40% of illegal immigrants legal status here in the United States. That’s 200,000 people.
Enriqueta Juares says after a dozen years of living in fear, the president’s order will finally offer her some relief. She says she doesn’t have words to describe how happy she is: “Yes, very, very happy.”
With two children, one born in the U.S., the cleaning woman at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor now dreams now of a much brighter future for her children. She hopes her daughter will be a doctor.
But the executive order is limited and President Obama is not expected to extend legal status to the parents of dreamers like 19-year-old college student Claudia Quinonez.
“I will be very upset,” the Montgomery College student said, almost crying. “It will be shame on him. Because we’ve been working very hard.”
Quinonez’s mother Rosemary brought her to the U.S. from Bolivia when she was 11-years-old.
“They work hard, my mom pays taxes, and she works because she wants me to have a better life.”
Gustavo Torres, executive director of the immigrant service and advocacy group CASA, says this is a huge victory, but immigrants want more.
“All of the actions we’ve engaged in for 20 years pay off right now. But it’s not a solution, I want to be very clear. We need to pass comprehensive immigration reform.”
Maryland anti-illegal immigration activist Brad Botwin agrees on the need for reform, but he says the reform that’s needed is tougher border enforcement and English only policies.
“I don’t need another five, six, seven million people competing with American citizens who really still can’t find work,” Botwin said.
The immigrant rights activists are planning to listen to the speech and will celebrate CASA in Hyattsville and down at Lafayette Park in front of the White House.
Brad Botwin says he won’t even watch. He’s having dinner at the Cuban Corner Restaurant in Rockville with some people he says have left Maryland because of the government policies.
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