Local Groups Speak Out About Obama Immigration Policy Change
By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND/ODESSA - Thousands of illegal immigrants who were brought here as children will get the chance to stay in the U.S. without being deported under a new policy by President Obama.

It's a policy that sparking a huge debate across the country and here in the Basin.

It's a change that's been a long time coming for thousands of undocumented immigrants.

"This is just an opportunity to provide relief to some students that are in this country through no fault of their own," Art Leal, with the group Una Voz Unida, said.

But others said it doesn't help the nation's current immigration issue.

"I think we really have to gear ourselves to that long term solution," James Beauchamp with the Midland County Republican Party, said.

They're talking about President Obama's new immigration policy that would prevent an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants from getting deported.

Just announced on Friday, the change is effective immediately.

Illegal immigrants will not be deported if they are under 30 years old and were brought to the U.S. Before they turned 16, if they've been in the country for at least five continuous years, they have no criminal history and they have to have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military.

Leal says this is a small victory.

"There's gonna be a lot of people who say this is a handout," Leal said. "People need to understand, we've invested in these kids, most of these kids through our education system."

But Beauchamp said they have some concerns.

"Depending on who you talk to and what the number is, we really think the number is more like 12 million undocumented people here in the United States."

The policy states those who meet the criteria can apply for work permits. Opponents said Obama made the change to get more votes.

"We don't even know how many work permits would be issued," Beauchamp said. "There's a part of me that just can't help but think it's politically motivated."

However Leal said it's the right thing to do.

"A lot of them don't have family in Mexico, a lot of them don't know Mexico," Leal said. "They're American in every way, except on paper."

NewsWest 9 asked our viewers what they thought and got an overwhelming response.

One viewer disagrees with the change saying, "This is a slap in the face to the people that came to this country the right way." This comment got 60 likes.

But several other viewers think the change is a good thing saying, "If they aren't doing any harm to anybody beside working and getting an education then that's absolutely great."

Another writes, "It's a good decision and a good place to start fixing the illegal immigration problem. There is no reason to kick children out of the country for their parents choices."