It is expected to take up to six months for President Obama’s immigration reform plan to go into effect, without yet knowing what type of counter Republican leaders will present.
Meantime, Luisa Ramirez, an undocumented student, says she is feeling secure for the first time in years and the president’s immigration plan has given her and her ten year old son, Luis, a new legal lease on life.
“We had fear we’d be deported, Ramirez told NewsChannel 3. “Now we’re getting permission to work. I’m very emotional.”
Ramirez is a working student, studying English at Santa Barbara City College.
She came to the U.S. twelve years ago; Her son was born in this country.
According to immigration experts, students like Ramirez will be among the first to benefit from the president’s reformed immigration system.
“I think it’s really going to benefit society a whole lot,” said Nicolas Gonzalez, Executive Director of Santa Barbara Immigration Community Center.
Staffers at the non-profit have spent thirteen years helping people who come to America legally and illegally.
“We’re going to look at each situation specifically and determine whether or not they qualify to become either legal residents or U.S. citizens eventually,” said Gonzalez. “I think it’s just a wonderful humanitarian objective that he’s taking on and I think the whole country should really gather around and see the benefits that we’re all going to receive from that.”
Under the president’s latest plan, an estimated five million people will qualify for legal status, yet millions of undocumented immigrants won’t, including Armando Ibanez and his mother. Both were adults when they snuck across the U.S. border fourteen years ago.
“I wish President Obama could come to my house and tell my mom that because I can’t,” said Ibanez.
The changes will be painful for many. However, Gonzalez believes giving some kind of immigration relief — even if it’s a work authorization card — will be good for the country, as a whole.
“Everyone’s going to be paying taxes, insurance, driving a car,” said Gonzalez. “I think it will benefit a lot of individuals.”
Including little Luis, a Santa Barbara fifth grader whose future is looking brighter than ever.
“It’s going to change the future for our children,” said Ramirez.