Many immigrants in the United States are now living the best moment of their lives. President Barack Obama's executive decision, which will halt deportations and provide work permits to more than 4 million immigrants, isn't everything we expected, but it's reason to celebrate. Yes we can.
This is a clear victory for the Latino community, which is more than 55 million strong and becoming a powerful segment of the population. It was time. This is the most important immigration move in almost 50 years — since the change to the immigration law in 1965. President Obama's measure will impact more people than the 1986 amnesty that legalized 3 million people.
Nobody wanted it. But it happened.
We must not forget that Republicans and their leader, John Boehner, blocked immigration reform in the House of Representatives this year. They had more than 500 days to discuss the measure but they refused to vote on the Senate’s plan. They also didn't propose anything new. Their inaction pushed President Obama to the extreme.
We have to recognize it. Obama didn't think he had the legal authority to protect millions of undocumented people. He told me personally, and repeated it many times after, "I am not a king.” On another occasion he said "I am not the emperor of the United States." But the president evolved and changed his point of view. And now he thinks he has the authority to do what he did today, Nov. 20.
Obama is right. This is precisely what presidents do: they make executive decisions about big problems facing the country. Republican Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr. also made executive decisions — in 1987 and 1990, respectively— that benefited millions of undocumented people. It is hypocritical to criticize Obama for doing the same.
WATCH: Jorge Ramos says Obama is "paying a debt to the Latino community" with this executive action
What made President Obama change his mind? First, the intransigence of Republicans in Congress. But it was also the enormous pressure from DREAMers (undocumented students), Hispanic Congress members, Latino organizations and journalists. Still, I think underneath it all, there was something much more personal. President Obama had a pending debt.
In 2008, the president promised that he was going to present Congress with an immigration plan during his first year in office. But he didn’t follow through — even when Democrats had control of both the House and the Senate.
He has carried that weight throughout his presidency. Obama's executive decision is a way to make good on his broken promise, and to make peace with the Latino community. This is, of course, my own interpretation. Regardless, what he did is appreciated.
This executive action is only the first step. Many people are not included by this measure. It hurts me particularly that he did not include the parents of DREAMers. And let’s not forget that the order is a temporary measure that could be revoked by the next president.
The next step is to make sure the presidential candidates from both parties don't revoke this decision, and instead will promote a new permanent immigration reform plan for 2017.
In the meantime, it's important to tell Mexicans and Central Americans who are thinking of coming to the United States right now that they don't qualify under this executive action. This is only for those who are here and came to the United States before Jan. 1, 2010. It would be very dangerous to come, and overall, a big waste of time and money.
Lastly, I have to recognize that the United States has been incredibly generous with me and that this presidential decision reaffirms my conviction that, at the end of the day, this can be a great country for immigrants. Gracias. De veras.