Executive order a relief to local immigrant families

President's immigration order means Jacksonville mother won't feel 'hunted'


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Barely 24 hours after President Barack Obama announced an executive action plan that would shield millions of undocumented immigrants, families are coming forward saying they feel relieved.

Thursday, Obama announced a plan that would ease the threat of deportation for nearly 4.4 million undocumented immigrants.

That plan means one local mother of three no longer feels she has to be on the run.

"I came almost 15 years ago with my mother and my youngest brother," said Marisol, who declined to give her last name to protect the identity of her three young children. "The life in Mexico was very rough. I have to clean houses with my mom since I was 12. And we saw it as an opportunity."

Marisol eventually met and married her husband, had her children and created a better life in America. But until this week's presidential announcement, Marisol said she always felt she was living under the radar.

"How can you tell your kids that?" she asked. "How can you tell your kids, 'I cannot take you to the park because I can't drive' or 'I cannot take you to see your family soon because I can't drive'?

"We don't want to feel that we are getting hunted out there when you go outside."

Jacksonville immigration attorney Rebecca Black (pictured) said her office has been busy since Thursday night's announcement. 


"What this will do is it doesn't fully make them legal," Black said. "They will be able to have a work authorization, and they will have driver's licenses. And they will come and be able to come out of the closet and lead a more normal life."

The plan allows undocumented residents to apply legally for jobs and join American society, but not to vote or qualify for insurance under the health care law.

Black, who said Jacksonville is a hot spot for undocumented immigrants, said the department of immigration is still not sure when the plan will go into effect. She said the reform will give these immigrants a voice, and she does not feel it's giving anyone a pass.

"There are strict limits on when you actually qualify for any of the benefits," Black said. "You have to have been here for five years as the parent of a U.S. citizen born child. Your child had to have been born no later than yesterday. So if your child is born next week you don't quite qualify."

Marisol said eventually she hopes to go to college, and her story is just one of many.

"It's not just my story," she said. "It's thousands of people's stories."