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Obama immigration plan: 'This will change the lives of my children'

June 15, 2012 |  1:47 pm

Baola Martinez, right, 24, of the Dominican Republic joined more than 150 students and Dream Act supporters that rallied in front of the Federal Office Building in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to voice their support for President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants.

To say Patricia Vazquez is overjoyed is to put it lightly.

Like other parents of undocumented students, the 48-year-old spent the day celebrating President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants.

Vazquez has two kids in college who she expects will qualify for the program.

“This will change the lives of my children, the lives of so many families, of so many generations,” she said. “I want to make a giant banner and put over the freeway for everyone to see, saying, ‘Thank you, Obama.’ ”

DOCUMENT: Read the immigration fact sheet Obama to stop deporting young illegal immigrants

The announcement was bittersweet for the housekeeper as her oldest daughter, who just turned 30, will  not qualify, though she attended college and runs her own business. Applicants must be under 30 years of age.

“I will cry with her in sadness,” she said. “And I will cry with my other two children in joy.”

In Huntington Park, Veronica Navarette knew little about the new policy, but was thrilled for her son.

Victor Manuel Mendieta, a 17-year-old A-student at Huntington Park High School graduates this month. She said and has been casting about for a way for him to continue his studies, but was feeling insecure about his future.

“He’s been talking about this for a long time,” said Navarette, a mother of four, who brought Victor, her oldest son, here illegally when he was 8 months old from Tecolotlan in the Mexican state of Jalisco. “He says that he’s nobody here, that he can’t do anything here” because of his undocumented status.

Friday morning, Navarette was still unclear on how the order would help her son. But she said it would likely put an end to the ridicule he and other undocumented kids endure from schoolmates, including other immigrants who are here legally.

“They say that they don’t belong here, that this isn’t their country. They say they’ve got nopal on the forehead,” she said, referring to the cactus that is a national symbol of Mexico. “It’s the same Latinos who say this, children of immigrants.”

In Thousand Oaks, Jose Navarro, a disabled car wash worker from Mexico, was at a doctor’s appointment when his oldest son, Jose, 17, called with the news.

“I feel a lot of happiness for my children,” said Navarro, who brought his sons to the United States illegally when they were 4 and 2. “They’re the ones whose lives will be able to continue.”

The family has hired an attorney and been trying to get legal residency for several years.

Navarro's son, Jose Jr., a rising junior involved in two college-preparatory programs at Thousand Oaks High School, had heard on Facebook of the president having done something important, though it wasn’t clear what. Then a friend called to fill him in. He then called his family’s attorney to find out what it all meant.

Now he may be able to find work, which would allow him to help pay for college, said Jose Jr., who has visited USC and UC Santa Barbara.

“Finally we have something to look forward to,” he said.

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-- Esmeralda Bermudez and Sam Quinones

Photo: Baola Martinez, right, 24, of the Dominican Republic joined more than 150 students and Dream Act supporters that rallied in front of the Federal Office Building in downtown Los Angeles on Friday to voice their support for President Obama's decision to halt the deportation of young illegal immigrants. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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