HOUSTON - President Obama’s change on illegal immigration fired up opinions on both sides of the issue.
A Latino issues-minded group of Houstonians meets at Doneraki’s every third Saturday. They order chorizo, menudo and chew on hot topics. They’re led by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). This week, emotion took over.
"I’m going to start crying," said Jannell Robles, an activist.
Robles works full-time helping undocumented Hispanic youth who have lived in the United States most of their lives, possess higher education degrees yet work low-end jobs. None of them have government-issued identification, which means they can’t drive, travel or realize their dreams.
"It’s personal (for me) just because I have so many friends affected by it," Robles said. "We’re not giving an opportunity to people who really are trying to get ahead and who have been through so much to try to get ahead."
On Friday, President Obama directed the Department of Homeland Security to grant work permits to certain people under 30 who came to the U.S. as children and avoided serious legal trouble.
"It’s big because (the president’s order) allows our children not to be in fear," said Baldomero Garza, a Houston immigration attorney.
"For (undocumented children), Friday was a combination of the Fourth of July and Christmas," said Edna Serrano, a high school teacher who knows several undocumented students. "They were so filled with hope."
"This particular move, it affects a very small segment of the 11 or 20 million, only God knows for sure how many, illegal immigrants are here," said Norman Adams, a Republican and co-founder of Texans for Sensible Immigration Policy.
Adams, who believes the President does not have authority to implement such immigration change, wants immigration reform similar to what Texas Republicans established during their convention in Fort Worth last week.
"We don’t have to guarantee these people citizenship," Adams said referring to illegal immigrants. "What we need is a method of legalization whereby they can be positively identified and allowed to work for employers that deduct and match taxes."
Robles, though, feels her friends deserve much more.
"They’re fully integrated in American culture and American society," Robles said. "They just don’t have that paper that says they’re American citizens."