Brazilian Community Reacts to Obama's New Immigration Policy
Undocumented or illegal immigrants applaud the Obama administration's new policy to not pursue deportation of children who arrived in this country illegally with their parents, if they are under the age of 30 and have no criminal record.
When Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff visited Massachusetts in April, Ashland housecleaner Graça Mello asked a Framingham radio reporter to bring a letter to the Brazilian head of state. In the letter, Mello spoke about the angst of being a mother of a teenage daughter, who can’t go to college because she’s undocumented.
Two months later the Obama Administration announced on Friday, the deferred action of deportation of young immigrants who came to America, before they were 16-years-old with their parents, have no criminal record, and a high school diploma.
“After the day Dilma came here, I kneeled and prayed,” said Mello. “God heard my prayers. My daughter deserves to have a brighter future. Thank God the day has come.”
In Sherborn, Framingham handyman Paulo Pereira was arriving at the first house for a long day at work. His long time American client was waiting for with a print out of a Washington Post story and a smile.
“Finally my daughter will be able to drive, and my son will go to college,” said Pereira, a father of four, who pays about $2,000 a month to rent a home in North Framingham, because he can’t qualify for a mortgage as an illegal immigrant.
Pereira heads one of those families with mixed status. He and his wife are undocumented (illegal immigrants). They have two American-born sons and couple of Brazilian-born children.
“I’ve been saving for my son’s college every month. Now, I’ll be able to give my daughter a car. I think the community will also win. I’m more secure to invest,” said Pereira.
On WSRO 650 AM, a popular Brazilian radio station in Framingham, listeners peppered immigration lawyer Joshua Paulin with questions.
“Those who are still taking high school also qualify,” said Paulin during Vem Viver, a Portuguese language show, which has been on the radio station for 8 years.
Euphoria was the tone of the whole day in the Brazilian community.
“Now it will hard for Obama to lose re-election,” said Carlos Amaro, who is an American citizen, but has relatives, who are undocumented or considered illegal immigrants.
Another listener from WSRO, Eliza Souza, said she’s not so sure about that.
“(Republican Presidential candidate Mitt) Romney is very astute. It's too early to say,” said Souza, whose undocumented son lost his job, and couldn’t find another for the past 12 months.
Marlborough waitress Sandra Costa, 25, who also is undocumented, said “I was losing hope that I would ever get to go to college. My parents tried saving for a community college, but rates were too high for them.
"I can’t wait to that day when I’ll be able to drive and walk with my head high,” said Costa, who takes a lift from a friend to go to work during evenings and plans to take some nursing classes in the morning.
Community activist Jorge Costa, said the pressure by the Latino community made the difference politically.
“In politics we say “we need to keep the fire alive.’ The issue is that everyone wants to get benefits, but not everyone is willing to fight for it,” he said.
For people in Marlborough and beyond, such as Graça Mello Friday was a day hoped for more than a decade.
“Now, I can say that I believe in my kid’s future, because it will be constructed with study and hard work. Now, I can stop thinking about moving back to Brazil for good,” she concluded, as she tried to hold back the tears.