Undocumented immigrants Jaime and Christian: Now more fearless!
  • Undocumented immigrants Jaime and Christian: Now more fearless!
Obama signed an executive order on immigration this morning that has left some people speechless with happiness.

"I don't feel very articulate at the moment, I'm too excited! This is tremendous, tremendous news and there's no going back," said Portlander Anne Galisky, who directed the movie Papers, when I called her this morning about the news. What's the big deal? Under the order—effective immediately—as many as 800,000 young people who grew up in the United States no longer need to fear deportation. Picking up on the energy and arguments of the thousands of people who's advocated for the DREAM Act, the order says that undocumented immigrants are now immune to deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been here for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, and graduated from a US high school, earned a GED, served in the military. These kids can also apply for two-year work permits that can be renewed over and over.

From Obama's remarks: ""Let's be clear, this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship, this is not a permanent fix. This is the right thing to do."

No, it's not citizenship, it's not a path to citizenship, but it gets ambitious Portlanders like Jaime Guzman, Christian Gonzalez and Hector Lopez get out from under the thumb of fear and work, study, and live legally in the country they grew up in. Young immigrants around the country have been pushing the president and Congress to provide them some path to being productive members of society—the Senate dashed those hopes last year when it the DREAM Act failed by five votes.

"There was so much grief after the Senate blocked the DREAM Act, they're so cautious about getting excited. I don't think there's going to be so much euphoria as relief," says Galinksy. "This is not so much about presidential power as youth activist power. They're the ones who did it!"