Public News Service - Only some of the 230,000 undocumented immigrants living in Washington will be touched by President Obama's executive order announced Thursday night.
The changes are expected to lead to fewer deportations and detentions for people in the country without authorization, particularly for those with children born in the United States. Jolinda Stephens, a volunteer with the Northwest Detention Center Resistance, said it's taken tireless action from groups such as hers to get this far.
"Yes, it is a start," she said. "And we need to go from here to get an immigration policy that's worthy of America, that's worthy of our ideals and our understanding of ourselves as all being immigrants."
Today's noon rally and concert at the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma already had been planned as part of a national effort at multiple detention sites. "Chant Down the Walls" will call attention to those who have been left out of the president's plan and to the dismal living conditions in these facilities.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that slightly more than 7 percent of children in kindergarten through 12th grade in Washington have a parent who isn't authorized to live and work in the United States.
For years, said Kica Matos, director of Immigrant Rights and Racial Justice at the Center for Community Change, the immigration-reform movement has sought policy changes to keep families intact.
"We can't forget that over 2 million people have been adversely impacted by the president's immigration policy," she said. "So, it feels like this is a new page in a book that has been filled with a lot of pain for our communities."
She added that comprehensive reform has to come from Congress and said she hopes they will continue their dialogue. For now, Republican leaders have slammed Obama's move as overstepping his authority. The president said he will work with lawmakers on more comprehensive changes to the immigration system.