More than 40 Omahans held up signs of support Friday for President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration at a rally held at Our Lady of Guadalupe Hall in South Omaha.
A coalition of social, religious and education groups gathered to show support but also say Congress needs to pass a long-term solution to immigration. They also said they will help immigrants navigate the legal processes outlined in the president’s plan.
Dayana Lopez, a student who is a member of the Dreamers Project Coalition, said she came to the U.S. with her father when she was 4 years old. As she grew older, she said, she realized she couldn’t apply for a driver’s license or financial aid to go to college.
“A country I had grown to love was holding me back because of my parent’s decision to come here,” she said.
She said Obama’s action was a step in the right direction, but she wants comprehensive immigration reform to happen soon.
“I’m urging our representatives to stop looking at us as criminals but as students, business owners and families,” Lopez said. “This is the time to act. Why wait any longer?”
Not all will qualify for Obama’s temporary solution. While his plan would expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, relatives of those young people still could be deported.
“Even though I’m celebrating this small victory, I am saddened that many families will remain in the shadows, particularly parents of DACA recipients, as they will not qualify for this action,” said Irma Lugo, Heartland Worker Center board member.
Besides the Heartland group, the coalition at Friday’s event included Nebraska Appleseed, Latino Center of the Midlands, ACLU, Catholic Charities and Justice For Our Neighbors, a legal aid group.