When President Barack Obama announced his executive order for illegal immigration last Thursday night, there was no shortage of Everett residents who were glued to their television sets.
However, while some rejoiced at the announcement, others found profound sadness in it as they were not qualified for protection under the order and would remain with illegal status.
Lucy Pineda of Latinos United in Massachusetts (LUMA) said there are mixed reactions to the order – and as happy as some are, others are just as unhappy. That, she said, underscores the need for a more comprehensive effort.
“This is the only way he could do this – for parents who already have children,” said Pineda this week. “In our opinion, the president responded to the need we’ve discussed for so long to keep families together. There are people who say to us that they’ve lived 20 years here for 20 years, gotten their taxpayer ID, paid their taxes, started successful businesses and they don’t qualify for this because they don’t have any children. They don’t believe that’s fair and it isn’t, but that’s what we have. The message here is we have to keep fighting for comprehensive immigration reform.
“It’s also not fair for the kids who just came here to the country from Central America and we have a lot of kids in that situation,” she continued. “They will continue in the shadow because we don’t know what will happen. This doesn’t cover them. Immigration reform is not going to be easy – and we don’t know what is going to happen in a Republican Congress – but we have to keep pushing for that.”
Last Saturday, Pineda and LUMA held an informal information session and had nearly 100 people turn out.
They are getting about 200 messages on Facebook every day and about 200 to 300 calls on the telephone as well. The president’s announcement has set off a flurry of activity in the community for those who are here illegally and the family members who are here legally.
Pineda said it was important for LUMA to get out in front of the announcement to provide information. She said the organization had a big presence at a meeting in East Boston on Tuesday night, and she said LUMA is planning information sessions in Everett, Revere and Lynn.
One of the biggest pieces of information is to get tax information together, and to also visit to the consulate of their respective home countries.
“The big thing will be education,” she said. “You have to be careful with the information that’s coming out because people are confused. They think this is immigration reform and it isn’t. If people haven’t done their taxes, they need to do that for the last five years. They need to pay their income taxes, get a taxpayer ID and save all the information. If they have done their taxes, they need to get all that documentation together. They also need to get a copy of their passport with a stamp at their consulate office…It’s a lot of work, so we are telling people to do these things with people who know what they’re doing.”
Pineda said it is great news for those who are here and do qualify under the executive order. It means they no longer have the fear of being separated from a child who is a U.S. Citizen. The relief from that heavy weight, she said, cannot be overstated.
However, she said that it cannot be left at just the executive order.
“This is just the beginning,” she said. “We’ve been working on this since 2006, to keep families together. We have to continue fighting though because this is just a first step.”