HIDALGO, RGV – U.S. Rep. Luis Gutiérrez, who has led the fight for comprehensive immigration reform in the United States, has welcomed President Obama’s executive action.

Under the order, around five million undocumented immigrants will be able to apply for work permits and be shielded from deportation under the action. Tens of thousands of South Texas border residents will be covered by the action.

Gutiérrez, D-Illinois, said Obama’s action has put a human face on the immigration issue.

“I think what the President did tonight was wonderful because a community of people were demonized during the last elections. We had one senator after another, one member of the House after another, on the Republican side, using the argument about a porous border, of criminal Mexicans crossing the border, saying that Ebola was coming across the border and that Isis was coming across the border, in order to win their elections. Tonight the President humanized that community of people and I think that that is the debate and the discussion the Republican Party is afraid of.”

Gutiérrez will appear with Obama in Las Vegas to explain what the executive action will mean. He said it will not go into effect until Jan. 1, 2015, and then it would take another 180 days before it is implemented. “We are hearing a lot of whining from Republicans. If they do not like this executive action they have time to pass immigration reform. They control the House and the Senate.”

United We Dream founder Cristina Jiménez contacted her parents after hearing President Obama's immigration speech. They will be protected from deportation. (Photo: Ana Nance)
United We Dream founder Cristina Jiménez contacted her parents after hearing President Obama’s immigration speech. They will be protected from deportation. (Photo: Ana Nance)

Texas Gov. Rick Perry saw things differently.

“In Texas we know firsthand the problems brought by illegal immigration and bad federal policy. As we saw with the tens of thousands of unaccompanied minors who came across the border, a bad policy led to children being put at risk. The president’s decision tonight will lead to more illegal immigration, not less. It is time for the president and Congress to secure our border, followed by meaningful reforms. There is no more time for political grandstanding,” Perry said.

Cristina Jiménez is co-founder of the United We Dream movement. Jiménez said she called her mother and father to say they would be protected from deportation under Obama’s executive action. While she was pleased about the situation for her family and millions of other undocumented immigrants, Jiménez pointed out that there are millions more that will not be affected.

“Many families will not qualify for protection from deportation,” Jiménez said. “This is a victory we will own. We made this happen. Our communities made this happen. But, we will not stop until everyone in our community is able to have protection from deportation and be able to live in this country without fear and with dignity.”

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said he will file a lawsuit against the Obama Administration over the executive action.

“President Obama has circumvented Congress and deliberately bypassed the will of the American people, eroding the very foundation of our nation’s Constitution and bestowing a legacy of lawlessness,” Abbott said.

“Texans have witnessed firsthand the costs and consequences caused by President Obama’s dictatorial immigration policy and now we must work together toward a solution in fixing our broken immigration system. Following tonight’s pronouncement, I am prepared to immediately challenge President Obama in court, securing our state’s sovereignty and guaranteeing the rule of law as it was intended under the Constitution.”

U.S. Rep. Rubén Hinojosa is the outgoing chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The Mercedes, RGV, Democrat said the executive action was historic.

“The magnitude of the President’s immigration announcement is enormous. I applaud President Barack Obama for bringing people out of the shadows and doing what’s right for our country. Executive action – in lieu of Republican inaction – is a huge victory for the Latino community,” Hinojosa said.

“In the coming months, the CHC will work with the immigrant community and our partners across the country to implement those actions and ensure that those eligible are not victims of fraudulent schemes.”

Hinojosa said that from the beginning, the CHC has been at the forefront of the immigration issue and will continue to do so long after the Obama announcement.

“Hispanic Caucus has been working closely with President Obama on these executive actions, and we will continue to push our Republican colleagues to enact a permanent solution. There are people who were left and we will not forget their struggle. The CHC will continue to fight for them,” Hinojosa said.

“Our advocacy for our nation’s immigrant community does not end this week. We must remember that the only way to permanently address this issue is through an act of Congress. It’s time for Republicans to do something on this issue other than pursue obstructionist policies that harm our country and our families.”

Opinions on Obama’s executive action appeared to split along party political lines. U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said the measure was unconstitutional.

“Failing to get his way in Congress does not give President Obama the right to go around Congress. The American people strongly oppose his executive amnesty, and Republicans will take action to stop it,” Cornyn said on the Senate floor.

“I wish the President wouldn’t do this. It won’t work. It’s unconstitutional. It purports to exercise a power he himself said he does not have, but he seems determined to do it, nonetheless. I believe the American people will react negatively to this President’s claim of authority to issue this amnesty and I believe then the next step is for Congress to do everything we can to stop it and then to do it the right way, not the wrong way.”