Young illegal immigrants had a meeting at the White House Thursday following President Barack Obama's recent executive action to shield about 5 million people from deportation
The group of eight, who were brought to the United States by their parents as children, met with Obama domestic policy advisor Cecilia Munoz on the day that the House approved an essentially symbolic measure to roll back the president's actions.
“Republicans have taken votes to deport dreamers by voting to defund the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program,” Lorella Praeli, the advocacy and policy director for United We Dream, told TheBlaze after the meeting. “They have now voted today to block the executive action from happening. Even though they are taking those votes, every time we go to the Hill, many of the leaders around me right now, and they stand in front of a Republican member of Congress, and ask, ‘Can you just tell me if you want to deport me or if you want to deport my parents?’”
Praeli, who was brought to the U.S. from Peru when she was 11, called Obama’s executive action last month to focus deportations on illegal immigrants who committed serious crimes a victory, but an incomplete one.
“This is a tremendous victory, yet it is not enough. It is temporary. It is not permanent. It leaves millions of people out, which is why we are committed to fight until no one in our community feels the threat of deportation,” Praeli said. “When Republicans and other members of Congress make this personal, when they try to say this is about the president and executive overreach and the Constitution, but it is really an attack on our communities, then it becomes a real fight for us.”
Obama expanded his 2012 deferred action for illegals who arrived in the United States as children, eliminating the age cap that had been limited to people under 31 and opening the program to anyone who came United States before January 2010, instead of January 2007.
Praeli said that DACA now protects 700,000 people in all, which will provide power in numbers to pressure lawmakers.
“The president didn’t change the law,” she said. “The president is prioritizing who to deport. There is prosecutorial discretion powers and executive authority to make these changes. So the law hasn’t been changed. That is on Congress to do. Republicans so far have been unwilling to do so, to work with people, to work with us.”