Western Mass. Immigrants and Advocates React to Obama’s New Policy

Western Massachusetts immigrants and immigrant advocates praised Friday’s Obama Administration announcement that the United States will stop deporting younger illegal immigrants and begin granting work permits to those who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. But, they say, it’s only one step on a long road of needed immigration reforms. 

Francisca Rodriguez is a twenty year old college student in the Pioneer Valley, working with the Student Immigrant Movement in Boston. She says she has been undocumented since her parents brought her to the U.S. from Chile when she was seven. Rodriguez says the administration’s new policy will help her continue her college education.

“I could help with my parents for school, because, you know, college is very expensive, and I can contribute to the economy, and I can drive, it will make my life so much easier. I don’t have to hide, I can tell people, and I’ll just feel more normal in that aspect of my life.”

Jeff Napolitano, director of the Western Massachusetts branch of the American Friends Service Committee, says the policy change is a step in the right direction, but should have happened immediately after the president’s inauguration.

“Unfortunately it’s taken almost four years, and hundreds of thousands of folks being deported, and the actions of brave undocumented youth to get the administration to do this bit.”
 
The new approach will allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the US and obtain renewable two-year work permits, fulfilling many aspects of the DREAM act, a bill which failed to pass through congress in 2010. Napolitano says his organization and other social justice groups will continue to work for more humane US immigration policies.
 
In a statement, Republican U.S. Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts says he opposes the president’s executive order and did when it was presented in legislative form.