Sixteen years after entering the U.S. illegally and seven grandchildren later, Maria Guadalupe Arreola has petitioned President Barack Obama to think of her when he decides how to use his executive powers for immigration reforms that Congress failed to act on.
Arreola, 55, is one of 11 immigrants who sent requests to the Department of Homeland Security asking for “deferred action,” which would free them from threat of deportation at least temporarily.
If President Barack Obama doesn’t come through for her “I’ll think he hasn’t kept his promises,” said Arreola, who helped register voters to help elect Obama. Her daughter, Erika Andiola, is a prominent young immigration activist who was able to obtain deferred deportation for herself.
The 11 immigrants' requests are part of an organized campaign and included a request from immigration activist Jose Antonio Vargas, a former Washington Post journalist who is in the country illegally and was recently arrested while trying to board a flight leaving McAllen, Texas.
“This morning with our names and our faces and our history in this country that we call our home, we present ourselves to the government united and resolute,” Vargas said.
Immigration advocates have been keeping pressure on Obama to use his executive powers to shield many of the 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally from deportation. Obama did just that for young immigrants who were in school and had lived in the U.S. since before 2007.
Arreola and others said they filed their requests on behalf of the millions who were not included in the action for the young immigrants who call themselves DREAMers.
“Our families need relief now,” Vargas said. “Just how inclusive and humane will President Obama’s executive action be. Who will be left out and why?
Arreola said she fled a violent husband, bringing three of her five children with her. Her two oldest children were already in the U.S. and helped bring the rest of the family, she said.
She was arrested at her home by officers who had been looking for her since a raid had been conducted by Sheriff Joe Arpaio at her workplace, she said. She was not at work when the raid happened, but the authorities continued to look for her and finally apprehended her at her home while her children looked on, she said.
“I never thought the American Dream I had so profoundly would become a nightmare when immigration came to my house and took me in front of my children,” said Arreola, now in deportation proceedings.
“I’m asking President Obama to include me in his executive order,” she said.
Arreola said she tries not to think about having to return to Durango, Mexico, if Obama doesn’t come through. Her mother just died and she would have nowhere to live, she said.
Separately, the Latino Victory Project released English and Spanish language advertisements on television and online criticizing House Republicans for failing to pass immigration reform. The ads call for support of the president taking executive action on immigration.
“The Latino Victory Project seeks to inform Americans of the position their elected officials have taken against Latinos and their refusal to adopt policies for the betterment of our country,” the organization, co-founded by actress Eva Longoria and businessman Henry Muñoz, said in a news release.