Michigan Undocumented Youth Respond To Obama's Pledge To Stop Youth Deportations

Undocumented Youth Aren't All Pleased With Obama's Order To Stop Deportations

While President Obama's pledge to stop deporting young immigrants and grant work permits may seem like a victory for immigration activists, Detroit-area youth it would help look upon his statement guardedly.

Friday morning, the Obama administration announced that undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and fit other restrictions will be eligible to apply for deferred action from deportations.

While young people across the country and politicians, primarily Democrats, praised the President's decision, the leader of a group for and run by undocumented youth, One Michigan's Jose Franco, looked at the decision with less positivity.

"Even though we're excited right now … we are cautious about it because the President has made similar announcements about protecting undocumented youth in the past, and they haven't been implemented," Franco said.

Last year, Obama's administration planned to focus on deporting serious criminals and those who pose threats, but Michigan activists have pointed to the large number of deportations of non-criminals and low-level offenders in the state.

Friday's announcement follows recent actions by youth across the country who have occupied Obama campaign offices as a demonstration to push for the DREAM Act, a stalled piece of legislation that would make it easier for undocumented youth to get citizenship or go to college.

Since Wednesday, four young activists have been camping out at Obama's Detroit headquarters. According to Thursday's Detroit News, a spokesman said while the Obama campaign respects the youths' courage, the real solution would come from Republicans currently blocking immigration reform laws.

Protester Mohammed Abdollahi, a 26-year-old who came to the U.S. from Iran when he was 3, grew up in Ann Arbor and now works on immigration issues nationally. He said he started organizing for the DREAM Act after he was first accepted to a Michigan university, then saw his acceptance revoked because of his citizenship status.

Like Franco, Abdollahi, who works with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, won't trust the administration's order until he sees the outcome. He said the protesters hadn't yet determined when they would leave the campaign office.

"If we wake up tomorrow and find out all the [deportation] cases we're working on get stopped, of course we'll change our tune," he said. "We're constantly stuck fighting those cases and it puts a lot of pressure on us, because we can see ourselves in that situation or our family in that situation."

17-year-old Evelin Calderon, who graduated from Melvindale High School near Detroit this spring, is also occupying the Detroit office. She plans to stay until Obama issues an executive order to stop deportations. Calderon, who is undocumented and hopes to be able to attend college in the fall, said the last few days had been a learning experience.

"I think we've been living in the shadows," she said. "Nobody understands what we go through and we need to take action. It's part of having a dream."

Below, see HuffPost College's roundup of other students' reactions to the announcement.

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