Reactions to immigration policy change mixed
MIAMI (WSVN) -- President Obama's immigration announcement has many young illegal immigrants in South Florida rejoicing, but some lawmakers believe more can be done.
Obama announced the new policy change on Friday, which affects about 800,000 young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. "Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people ... They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants," President Obama said.
According to the president, these youths will not be targeted for deportation for at least two years, if they:
- came to the U.S. before the age of 16
- have been a U.S. resident for at least five continuous years
- have no criminal history
- have graduated from a U.S. high school or have earned a GED or have served in the military
- are no older than 30 years old
A group of undocumented Miami students greeted the news with joy. "That's exactly what we were asking for," said student Julio Calderon.
Daniela Pelaez is another student who will benefit from the new plan. Her parents brought her to the U.S. from Colombia when she was just 4 years old. She faced deportation just months ago, but has been granted the opportunity to temporarily remain in the U.S.
Daniela was valedictorian of her class and just graduated last week from North Miami Senior High School. "It's amazing. I can't believe that just happened," she said. "We're Americans, we belong here, and we're going to contribute to the economy just as much as the next person."
The policy change received mixed endorsements from several politicians. Florida Senator Marco Rubio said he wants the issue tackled through legislation: "Today's announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem."
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney agreed. "He said that this is an important matter, we have to find a long-term solution, but the president's action makes reaching a long-term solution more difficult," said Romney.
Arizona sheriff and immigration reform advocate Joe Arpaio staunchly opposes the plan. "I'm not for it," he said. "This is a step toward amnesty. That's what this is all about."
There was a brief moment of dissension during President Obama's announcement in the Rose Garden on Friday. "Excuse me sir, it's not time for questions, sir. Not while I'm speaking," the president said to a reporter, "and the answer to your question sir, and next time I prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask questions, 'Is this the right thing to do for the American people?' I didn't ask for an argument. I'm answering your question."
That reporter has been identified as Neil Munro from the conservative online paper, The Daily Caller. Munro later said he thought the president was wrapping up his remarks.
(Copyright 2012 by Sunbeam Television Corp. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)