President Obama has signed an executive order that will stop the deportation of certain immigrants who moved to the U.S. when they were young. The controversial move is drawing praise and criticism in Illinois.
25-year old Alaa Mukahhal has a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois. Her family moved to the state from Kuwait when she was a young child. But she’s still not an American citizen, and she’s currently in the midst of deportation proceedings:
“The constant fear of being deported, hopefully this will lift that, and it also means that I would be able to be here, where I grew up" Mukahhal said.
With Obama’s order, students who have a GED or high school diploma and arrived in the United States before they were 16 won’t be deported. It only applies to immigrants who are under age 30.
The president's decision does have its critics, like William Kelly, who's a conservative activist from Chicago.
“It’s not fair, to the average American, to the law abiding American, to the middle class American, to American citizens who are desperately looking for jobs to provide for their own families” Kelly said.
Kelly says he’s contemplating filing a lawsuit challenging Obama’s order.
Lawrence Benito is with the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He says the organization praises the president for stopping the deportation of immigrants who meet certain requirements.
"You know these are students that have done everything we've asked them to do. They've stayed in school, stayed out of trouble, want to further their education and some willing to join the military" Benito said.
The coalition says the policy will impact up to 90,000 immigrants in Illinois.
State Representative Randy Ramey, R-Carol Stream, says he doesn't think President Obama should have issued the order.
"To throw this out, at this time I think is just all pandering to an electorate and trying to get votes" Ramey said.
Like William Kelly, Ramey says it's unfair to American citizens, who have to compete with immigrants for jobs.