Media

Hoosiers Have Strong, Opposite Reactions To Immigration Plan

November 20, 2014 | WTIU  |link to Article

President Barack Obama’s announcement that the federal government will not deport approximately 5 million unauthorized immigrants is receiving strong, but mixed reactions from Hoosiers.

Using executive power, Obama said he is ordering immigration services not to deport unauthorized immigrants who have lived in the U.S. for five years or more and have no criminal record.

“All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you,” Obama said, specifying that the plan did not provide a path to citizenship.

During a watch party hosted by IndyCAN, a grassroots movement of Indianapolis residents and faith leaders supporting immigration reform, 18-year-old Cynthia Torres struggled to put her emotions into words.

“I’m excited. I don’t know…it’s like…many people were in the shadows, and they couldn’t come out and speak,” she said. “It’s amazing news.

Toress was born to immigrant parents in California. Seven years ago, Torres’ mother was deported, and now Torres hopes that with Obama’s announcement, her dad can now live without her without fear of deportation.

While the president’s speech did not indicate previously deported people would be able to return to the U.S., Torres says she is hopeful her mom will be able to eventually come back to live with her as well.

But others question whether the president has the authority to do what he said he will.

Both Senators Dan Coats, R-Indiana, and Joe Donnelly, D-Indiana, say Obama cannot legallydo what he is proposing.

Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller agrees.

“It is beyond frustrating both that Congress has thus far failed to exercise its authority to reform immigration policy and that the President has apparently exceeded his authority by declining to enforce certain laws, in an area where states are prohibited from acting,” Zoeller said in a statement. “Inaction by the federal legislative branch does not justify the federal executive branch overstepping its bounds. Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

According to a Pew Research Center report released this week, about 85,000 unauthorized immigrants lived in Indiana as of 2012.