Obama’s Immigration Action Expected to Affect Thousands in Georgia

LAA President Jeffrey Tapia says President Obama's executive action is a critical step, but comprehensive immigration form is needed.
Credit Martha Dalton / WABE

Following President Barack Obama’s executive action on immigration, some local organizations are bracing for a flood of inquiries. The Latin American Association, for one, will hire extra attorneys to guide people through the process.Broadcast version.

The president’s policy provides deportation relief to more people and will allow some to receive work permits. The LAA was prepared for a rush of phone calls from people to see if they qualify for the program or how to find an attorney. But those calls didn’t happen. LAA President Jeffrey Tapia says it’s hard to predict exactly how many people will need help.

“We anticipate that there are hundreds of thousands of individuals in Georgia who may be able to qualify for this temporary benefit,” she said.  

Tapia said the LAA shares the “immense relief” felt by families, especially those with mixed immigration status. That is, some members who are here legally and some who aren’t.

“Take the far-too-common example of a young girl or a young boy, a child, who comes home from school, only to discover that her parents have been deported,” Tapia said.  

But Jonathan Eoloff, the LAA’s director of immigration services, said there are some grey areas. For example, the policy provides protection for three years, but he says, what happens after those three years?

“This executive action might be repealed by then by a congressional action or by a new administration,” Eoloff says. “So, is it a risk to come forward? Yes, I would say that it is a risk.”

That’s why the Latin American Association and other immigrants’ rights groups say the president’s plan is not a permanent solution. They still advocate comprehensive immigration reform, and that includes a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.