Immigration changes celebrated, criticized in Milwaukee

MILWAUKEE — President Barack Obama’s announcement on illegal immigration got swift reaction in Milwaukee. Under a new policy announced Friday, June 15th, illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children can request a two-year work permit to stay legally.

“Let us be clear, this is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. This is not a permanent fix.  This is a temporary stop measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people,” Obama said.

17-year-old Janeth Zorilla is an undocumented student in Milwaukee who came to the country as an infant.

“I was excited because this means I am able to legally work and give back, not only to my community, but to my family,” Zorilla said.

U.S. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner strongly opposes the change in policy.

“Putting 800,000 more people in the job market is unfair to the unemployed and under-employed Americans,” Sensenbrenner said.

Sensenbrenner said the change will also penalize immigrants who try to enter the country legally.

“Every time we grant amnesty, there are going to be more people who come here thinking our enforcement is so laxed that they can just come and hide out until another amnesty is granted,” Sensenbrenner said.

Zorilla says the change will allow her to pursue new careers, and to drive a car or find work without risk of deportation.

“I wouldn’t call it not fair.  I would call it the most just thing we can do.  I was brought here when I was a year-old so it’s not like I made a choice, but I am definitely affected by the choice my parents made for me, and I don’t regret it at all.  I thank them every day for it,” Zorilla said.

Under the new policy, people can apply if they are younger than 30 years old and came to the U.S. before the age of 16.  They must be able to prove they’ve lived in the country for at least five years.

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