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Immigrants’ message to Obama: The people have his back

CASA members gather Friday at Lafayette Park to show their thanks after President Barack Obama’s executive action announcement Thursday night. This action will help 5 million immigrants remain in the country.
Lorain Watters
CASA members gather Friday at Lafayette Park to show their thanks after President Barack Obama’s executive action announcement Thursday night. This action will help 5 million immigrants remain in the country.

WASHINGTON – A crowd shouted “sí se puede, sí se pudo,” or “yes we can, yes we could,” echoing into the empty Lafayette Park, as they held Mexican and American flags, dancing in the winter breeze.

What may have seemed like a protest from afar was actually a rally of thanks held outside the White House Thursday night, just before President Barack Obama announced executive action about immigration reform.

Members of Casa de Virginia and others huddled around iPads and smartphones to watch the live stream of Obama’s announcement. Afterward, the group cried and cheered, chanting “Obama, amigo, el pueblo está contigo,” or “Obama, friend, the people are with you.”

The president’s immigration accountability executive actionhas three components: increasing security at the border to prevent illegal immigration, deporting felons instead of families and allowing certain people with children who are citizens or permanent residents and have been in the U.S. for more than five years to remain in the country.

With this executive action, families would not have to worry about being deported for three years, and possibly more. This does not mean they can attain legal status through their children. This temporary fix will affect 5 million undocumented immigrants of 11 million in the country.

Yvonia Castillo, 48, has lived in the U.S. for 35 years as a permanent resident. Her daughter and grandson still live in El Salvador, where Castillo is from. She hopes the policy change will allow her to bring them here.

When Castillo is not working as a nursing assistant in Bumpass, Va., about two hours southwest of Washington, she rallies and protests for immigration reform outside the White House, where she has been arrested three times.

Still recuperating from fasting for 11 days to bring awareness to immigration, Castillo rallied with Casa de Virginia to show her thanks to the president.

Antonia Surco, 63, works as a caretaker in Bethesda, Md. She said in Spanish that it makes her happy to see the support from so many people about immigration, and she is excited for her family back in Peru to have a chance in the U.S.
Lorain Watters
Antonia Surco, 63, works as a caretaker in Bethesda, Md. She said in Spanish that it makes her happy to see the support from so many people about immigration, and she is excited for her family back in Peru to have a chance in the U.S.

“This is history. We are going to keep fighting for the rest of the people that the order didn’t help,” she said. “We just want to send a message to Congress to take a good look at what President Obama just did.”

Steve Rabson, 71, is a an adjunct instructor at the University of Mary Washington. He taught at Brown University for 30 years, where he was also the faculty adviser for theImmigrant Rights Coalition.

Although not directly affected, he has adopted immigration as a volunteer project. He said he has close friends who will now be able to come out of the shadows since they have been in the country for more than five years.

“America is a nation of immigrants. They come here, they work hard, they’re devoted to their families and they pay taxes,” Rabson said. “We have to stop treating them like criminals.”

Reach reporter Lorain Watters at[email protected] or 202-408-1494. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire. Like the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire interns on Facebook and follow us on Twitter​

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About the Contributor
Lorain Watters
Lorain Watters, Editor-in-chief Editor
Lorain Watters is a senior psychology and multimedia journalism major. She is currently the managing editor at The Prospector, previously holding the position of entertainment editor. Along with the newspaper and classes, Lorain is also a part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars honors organization on campus. In her spare time, she enjoys reading at coffeeshops, discovering new music and driving. Lorain strives to work for the New York Times or the Huffington Post in the future.
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  • A

    A dangerous precedentNov 30, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    “Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave. The top priorities for detention and removal, of course, are criminal aliens. But for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process.”

    These are the words of former Texas Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (1936 –1996). Some background: Ms. Jordan was the first black person elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first black woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery. Her dad was a Baptist preacher and her mother a maid. She was denied admission to the University of Texas, thanks to Jim Crow laws, and attended Texas Southern instead. But most important, when Barbara Jordan spoke, everyone listened regardless of their political affiliation. She was a brilliant and electric orator.

    Rep. Jordan is relevant to the immigration issue because she was appointed Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform by President Clinton. In 1995, after the Commission released its findings and recommendations, Rep. Jordan was called to testify before Congress on the issue of immigration. And the key declaration of the committee she chaired was the statement at top. This coming from a formerly poor, black, empathetic, brilliant Democrat who, nevertheless, didn’t let her compassion blind her to good policy for our country.

    By choosing to selectively enforce U.S. immigration laws, President Obama acted in a manner that is very Latin American and problematic. You see, countries that respect and enforce the rule of law, and expect their leaders to do the same, have the highest living standards in the world. These are first-world countries such as the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Norway, etc. Now compare the living standards of Latin American countries where it’s common, if not expected, for elected leaders and even low level bureaucrats to enforce or ignore laws as they see fit. It’s this crucial cultural difference that we Americans must preserve and where President Obama failed us all.

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Immigrants’ message to Obama: The people have his back