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Undocumented immigrants eager to see Obama action on immigration

November 20, 2014 | WTHR 13 | link to article

13 WTHR Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS - Juan Perez crossed the Mexican boarder in 1988 and never looked back. He's been in Indianapolis ever since, where he has a wife and three U.S. born children.

He's eager to hear President Obama's executive action on immigration.

"I'm hoping he gives us some good news," Perez said. "We need to be given a chance."

Perez is a contractor. He said he works hard to support his family and wants them to have a better life than he did, yet he said they live in constant fear of him being deported.

"They're afraid if some day I go to work in the morning and I never come back at night...No family should live with this," he said.

Father Chris Wadelton, pastor of St Phillip Neri Catholic Church on the city's east side, knows those fears are real. The vast majority of his parish, which includes an elementary school, is Hispanic.

"I think the majority of the time they're living in fear, always looking over their shoulder for what could happen, any minor infraction," he said noting the parish has lost members.

"Yes, they've been detained, arrested and deported," Wadelton said.

He said what he wants to see is an "earned path to citizenship...the vast majority of my parishioners are hard-working, family people who doing everything they can to make a better future for their kids...the time has to be now. We need to act quick so more families aren't torn apart."

As a so-called "dreamer," 22-year-old Brenda Martinez has some protections. She's part of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program adopted two years ago. It allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. to be eligible for work permits and driver's licenses.

But the program doesn't offer protection to their parents. Martinez still worries that one day her mother "will go to work and not come back."

The Ivy Tech student has has become an outspoken advocate of immigration reform.

"My dream is to live here without fears and to be able to study the career I want and be someone in life," she said.

Both Martinez and Perez know there are many people who feel differently about immigration reform.

"I know some are angry and don't l ike it," Perez said. "They need to know us, how we are good people of faith, people who just want to make life better for our kids and family."