Proponents of immigration reform are finding themselves fighting to protect something that many were not overjoyed with to in the first place. Executive action is good for their cause and has received overwhelming support from Latinos, but it can be challenged. And the plan benefits fewer than half the undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Most want Congress to pass a comprehensive reform package that would change the law of the land and give all 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. a way to legalize their status and even become citizens.
Obama’s plan will help many, but it still leaves out about 300,000 parents of immigrants who came to the U.S. illegally as children and qualified for a reprieve from deportation under Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the directive issued by Obama in 2012. For them, life in the shadows continues.
In the year ahead, expect the rallies, hunger strikes, marches and demonstrations that marked 2014 to continue. The National Fast for Families is in its second month, and more than 10,000 advocates and activists have joined nationwide.
Various civic engagement groups have begun reaching out to voters in key congressional districts, targeting specific House Republicans standing in the way of comprehensive reform. Hundreds are camping out in front of representatives’ offices.
Immigrant groups are focused on 2016 (every two years, all 435 House seats and one-third of Senate seats are contested) and are intent on galvanizing Latino voters, many of whom stayed away from the polls during the midterm elections. Many were disillusioned by Obama’s decision to delay executive action until after the midterms — viewed as giving in to pressure from Democrats worried about negative reactions from voters. Some Latinos even called for a boycott at the polls to punish both Democrats and Republicans and make it clear that their votes can’t be taken for granted.