Obama's illegal immigration plan meets with some skepticism
Besides attending rallies and protests, Salgado, 28, has used video, writing and graphic art to call attention to the issue of young undocumented immigrants.
He was in Washington D.C., for an art collaboration project when he heard Friday morning about the Obama administration’s plan to grant temporary relief from deportation to some young immigrants.
Salgado, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when he was 11 years old, was excited but skeptical about the news.
“A lot of us right now are kind of in that mode of ‘OK, thank you,’ but we will celebrate when it actually happens, because we have been fooled in the past,” he said, “and we don’t want to be used like little political game pieces just to get a vote.”
Salgado said he was cautious because the Obama administration’s announcement last year that it would use prosecutorial discretion to grant relief from deportation to some illegal immigrants who met certain criteria resulted in few successful cases.
“We were excited and yet dreamers were still getting deported," he said, referring to young people who would qualify for the Dream Act. "Every day on my Facebook wall I was looking at all these deportations that were happening.”
He and others in Washington who have been advocating on behalf of undocumented youths for years planned a press conference near the White House on Friday afternoon to offer their response to the announcement.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said Friday that the administration would stop deporting young immigrants who came to the U.S. as young children and who do not pose a security threat.
The change would allow illegal immigrants under the age of 30 and who meet certain criteria to stay and possibly work in the country under a deferred deportation that would last two years but could be renewed.
Those who are convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons and repeat offenders of immigration law would not be eligible.
Justino Mora and dozens of Dream Act advocates heard about the Obama administration’s decision to grant relief to young illegal immigrants Friday morning while they were preparing to attend a rally to push the administration for just such a change.
Mora, 22, an undocumented student who attends UCLA, said he was skeptical at first.
“At the beginning I sort of didn’t believe it,” he said, “but then almost immediately I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy. It gives me hope, it motivates me to continue fighting for my family, for my community.”
Ricardo Muniz, 24, was en route to the rally when he got the news.
"I can breathe," he said.
-- Paloma Esquivel
Photo: Students stage a Dream Act protest in downtown L.A. in 2010. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times