AZ leaders react to immigration change

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AZ leaders react to immigration change

CREATED Jun 15, 2012

Reporter:  Jessica Chapin

TUCSON (KGUN9- TV) - President Obama's decision to stop deporting children of illegal immigrants is sparking reaction from Arizona leaders, where the executive order will have a monumental impact.

"What the president did was provide humanitarian relief for a group of students who deserve it," said Rep. Raul Grijalva about the announcement.

The administration will wave deportation for illegal immigrants brought to the U.S before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have no criminal history, have been in the country for at least five years, and graduated from high school, have a GED or served in the military.  They will instead get work permits for two years.

Opponents argue the announcement is merely political pandering, and say it was wrong to bypass Congress.

Senator John McCain released a statement saying, "Today’s announcement by President Obama is a politically-motivated power grab that does nothing to further the debate but instead adds additional confusion and uncertainty to our broken immigration system."

Gov. Jan Brewer questioned the timing of the decision, as the state waits on one from the Supreme Court about immigration bill SB1070.

"The majority certainly doesn't believe that back door amnesty is the way to go," she said, "He's going to give documentation to nearly a million people that have arrived in our country illegally and not by the rule of law."

But, for local organization Border Action Network, it's a life-saver for many young people who use their services.

"This provides a great deal of freedom, it gives a whole new opportunity," said director Juanita Molina, "We have families that are afraid to go to the grocery store because of all the changes in the implementation of the law and now to know these kids can pursue their dreams is an amazing act."

One criticism came from both sides.  Grijalva and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida say it's a short-term solution to a long-term problem.  Grijalva says it's a step he hopes will lead toward further discussion in Congress.