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On Friday President Barack Obama signed executive order that could defer deportation for up to 5 million people who are in the country illegally.
He made the announcement at a stop at Del Sol High School in Las Vegas.
Las Vegas resident Maria Espinosa, who has lived in the US illegally for nearly 25 years, was at Friday's rally. Espinosa’s youngest daughter is a US citizen, which means she will qualify for protection under the president’s order.
She says she was happy when he announced he had signed the order, because at that point she knew she had some kind of protection from immigration officials.
“We still didn’t have protection until the president put it in the order,” Espinosa said.
She expects more immigrants, like herself, to get involved with politics because of the order and controversy it has sparked.
She says she understands undocumented workers broke the law when they entered the country, but people have to understand they did it for a better life.
“We just came here to bring opportunity to our kids. We’re here to work hard and pay taxes,” Espinosa said.
Jose Pulido’s parents cannot qualify for protection. The UNLV student is a so-called Dreamer, a term that refers to people who were brought to the US illegally when they were young, in Pulido’s case he was just 6 years old.
Under an executive order signed by President Obama two years ago, Pulido applied for deferred action status, which protects him from deportation.
Pulido was disappointed that people like his parents could not get protection from the president’s latest order. He said that his parents have contributed a lot to the country but all that hard work is for nothing, if nothing is done from them.
“They should have legal standing,” Pulido said.
He said he understands the view that his family should not get that standing because they broke the law. However, he said they not here to keep breaking the law.
“They’re not coming to be criminals. They’re coming here to work hard and to succeed,” Pulido said.
Immigration attorney Arlene Rivera says there are steps people looking to be covered by the president’s action must take and not every person in this country illegally is covered.
“Felonies are automatic disqualifiers,” Rivera said.
She says the order does not protect dangerous people or people who have three or more significant misdemeanors. It also does not apply to people who have recently arrived. In fact, to qualify she says people have to have been in the country on the day the president made the announcement.
However, Immigration and Customs Enforcement have discretion on how the order is implemented, Rivera said.
“If you fall within the four corners of the new policy, you should not be removed,” she said.
Maria Espinosa, protected under the president's executive action
Jose Pulido, Dreamer,
Arlene Rivera, immigration attorney
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