The policy change will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.
Families from the Latino community came together Friday at Centro Civico Mexicano to watch a live stream of President Obama announce the changes on the internet.
Parents sat with their children, some of them too young to understand the milestone could be for their future. The policy change is expected affect thousands in Utah.
“I really want to believe in it,” Silvia Salguero said with tears in her eyes. “I really do.”
Salguero came to the United States when she was 13 and is currently a student at the University of Utah. Salguero may not be eligible for deportation immunity because she is turning 30 next month.
The eligibility requirements are as follows:
• You must have came to the U.S. under age 16
• Be no older than 30
• Be enrolled in school, graduated from high school and/or served in the military
• Lived in the U.S. continuously for 5 years
• Have no criminal record
“Even if I wasn’t able to qualify, I still would have kept fighting because it means so much,” Salguero said.
Others in the community do not agree with the policy change.
Cheri Galvan believes it is nothing but a political ploy to get votes.
“I think at one point Obama said he couldn’t do anything a year ago because he wasn’t a king, well now I think he’s made himself a king with this announcement,” Galvan said.
Latino leaders said their excitement is met with caution.
“I’m worried that at the end it’s not true,” Salguero added. “But I’m happy.”