Undocumented Immigrants Line Up for Door Opened by Obama

Article author: 
Julia Preston
Article date: 
14 December 2014
Article category: 
National News
Article Body: 

They pushed strollers, tugged toddlers and streamed into the convention center in the heart of this city on Sunday, thousands of immigrants here illegally and anxious to find out if they could gain protection from deportation under executive actions by President Obama.

The crowd, waiting in a long snaking line to check in, was drawn by an information session organized by advocacy groups offering people initial assessments to see if they meet the requirements to apply to stay in the country and work. The day became a kind of coming-out party for about 5,000 unauthorized immigrants, the largest gathering in the country of people who might qualify for temporary protection since the president’s announcement last month.

Delfina Ibarra, 40, from Mexico, was taking in information while nursing a 17-month-old infant, Kimberly, the newest citizen in the family. Ms. Ibarra, who has lived in California for 23 years, said she also has a 21-year-old son who is a citizen. She said that without documents, she has been limited to cleaning houses and packing crates in industrial distribution centers. With a legal deferral document and a work permit, Ms. Ibarra said, she could get a driver’s license and go back to school ...

Hundreds of activist leaders also converged here for a three-day strategy conclave to plot how to enroll a maximum number of people in order to create momentum among immigrants and Latinos so they will defend the president’s actions and try to stop Republicans from canceling the programs before they get off the ground.​

“We’re telling all our families to get ready to apply if they qualify, because the more families apply, the harder it is for Republicans to take it away,” said Angelica Salas, the executive director of the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles, one of the main groups organizing the event ...

The orientation slide show projected on big conference hall screens began with unflattering photographs of House Speaker John A. Boehner of Ohio and of Representative Kevin McCarthy, a Republican from California who is also in the House leadership. It emphasized the message that Republicans were responsible for the failure in Congress to pass a broad overhaul of immigration policy that would have provided a permanent pathway to citizenship.

“These are the ones who keep getting in the way of immigration reform,” Ms. Salas said from the stage ...