Thousands of immigrant-rights activists, families and elected officials cheered across the country as President Barack Obama announced on television his plan for relief from deportations for about 5 million people.
But after the initial burst of emotion Thursday evening at hastily organized watch parties and in living rooms, many said Obama’s plan was just the first step in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.
Immigrant families pointed out the plan would only cover about 5 million of the 11 million without legal status, leaving many families and individuals in limbo.
Republicans slammed the president’s action as an overreach, while advocates — including Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber and California Gov. Jerry Brown — praised Obama’s plan.
Earlier Thursday, advocates held rallies in support of the plan, including one outside a federal building in Seattle that featured a series of speeches from politicians, activists and immigrants.
Not everyone was happy with Obama’s action. A couple of protesters held “no amnesty” signs outside a New York union office where advocates of the president’s plan watched the speech.
A Northern California sheriff harshly criticized the president’s approach after the recent fatal shootings of two deputies by a man with a long criminal history who was in the country illegally. A group of Utah business leaders said Thursday that the country’s immigration system needs to be fixed, but Obama’s plans will hamper any permanent solutions from Congress.
“This will definitely help our family no longer live in fear, fear that we will have to drop everything if our parents are deported. But there is still fear, because this is a temporary, and we need something permanent,” said Isaura Pena, 20, of Portland whose father and mother lack legal status.