“I think the policy took a lot of courage on the part of the president,” Brooks-Jimenez said. “Both sides, Republicans and Democrats, seemed to historically favor the DREAM Act, but it never made it to the floor for consideration.”
Lawmakers say policy is political
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore called the move transparently political.
“The appropriate way to deal with this issue is to propose legislation,” Cole said. “Instead, the president has chosen to act unilaterally and inappropriately.”
“This new immigration policy is another effort to receive votes during an election year, as it prevents the deportation of individuals who moved to the United States illegally,” said U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa. “However, this comes as no great surprise, as it is not the first time this administration has openly shown contempt for our nation's immigration laws.”
U.S. Rep. John Sullivan, R-Tulsa, said the president is granting amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants instead of putting American citizens back to work.
“Make no mistake about it, this is nothing but a political maneuver designed to appease his liberal base and get re-elected — but it's not going to work” Sullivan said. “This backdoor DREAM Act is against the will of the American people and is in direct violation of the rule of law.”
The move comes in an election year in which the Hispanic vote could be critical in swing states like Colorado, Nevada and Florida.
Activist opposing Obama's deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign headquarters in Denver, and other protests were planned this weekend.
Huerta has become in activist for the DREAM Act and a member of the Oklahoma City chapter supporting it. During her recent college graduation ceremony, she walked across the stage with the word “undocumented” on the back of her gown.
She and more than a dozen others fighting for the DREAM Act met Friday afternoon at La Oaxaquena bakery in south Oklahoma City to hear the president's news conference about the new policy.
“Right now, this is a relief — Band-Aid,” Huerta said. “There is still a lot to fight for.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report