Local immigrants expect to benefit from president's executive order

Local immigrants expect to benefit from president's executive order

Some immigrants living and working in the area illegally are confident they will qualify to remain in the U.S. under President Barack Obama's executive order on immigration and deportation.

"I think it was really good, it's going to help a lot of people, but at the same time, you know, we're really concerned about the people who are being left out," said Maria Amaya through an interpreter who works with the Congress of Day Laborers.

Thursday in a nationally televised address, the president announced his executive action that will spare from deportation nearly five million people who are in the United States illegally, at least temporarily. It's a move that is expected to benefit parents of children who were born in the U.S., as well as young people.

"From what I understand, I will make it in to the reform and I'll be covered by it," said Amaya.

A single mother, she came to New Orleans to help with the rebuilding and now works at a gas station. Since she's been here, she's had three children, all of whom are U.S. citizens.

"That's the one million dollar question, how many immigrants, how many Hispanics do we have in the Greater New Orleans area? If it is difficult to measure how many people live in an area, period, imagine how much more difficult it is to measure an undocumented population," said Martin Gutierrez, division director for Immigration and Refugee Services with Catholic Charities.

Still, he said they are increasing the number of telephone staffers as they prepare for an expected influx of immigrants who will need assistance on the process.

"We will have orientation sessions throughout the Archdiocese to make sure that the families and the individuals who would qualify get the proper information," said Gutierrez.

And while many in the local Latino community applaud the president's executive order, they said it is not a cure-all.

"We do know that this is a step in the right direction, but it's only a step, it's like a Bandaid," said Gutierrez.

"There are many people who have a lot of years in the country, a lot of years working here and won't be covered, and what we're fighting for is a complete reform," Amaya said.

Catholic Charities is urging immigrants to utilize only licensed and accredited social service agencies and legitimate immigration lawyers to avoid any scams.

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