Phoenix Dreamers and their critics respond to President's policy change

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- Friday's stunning change in immigration policy is triggering strong emotions, especially from the undocumented immigrants who are now eligible to stay in the U.S. under these new changes.

“Obama he's opened up the world to me, he's given me a new life, a new purpose,” said Vivana Vazquez. “Now I can pursue anything and to have that option is liberating and empowering.”

Vazquez is 19 years old.  Her parents brought her to the United States when she was just 8 months old.  She says America is all she knows and she’s tired of living in fear of deportation.

“I’ve lived here my whole life and I am just as American as anyone else,” said Vazquez, who finally feels free. 

But some see the President's policy change as pandering.

“We know the President and others want the Hispanic vote,” said Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. “Using illegal aliens and using young people as political pawns, I don't think that's right.”

But in fact these undocumented young people see this political pandering as power.

“The decision by the Obama administration validates the growing Latino electoral power in this state and nationally,” said Daniel Rodriguez, an undocumented immigrant who is part of the United We Dream Network.  “Guess what, for the first time Latinos and dreamers have enough power to play politics toe to toe with them.”

While Arpaio is convinced the President's order will lead to amnesty he also admits he will enforce it.

“I'm just here to obey the laws and enforce the laws if they want to change the laws that’s ok,” said Arpaio.  “I'm not going to arrest the people who fall in that category, if we can determine that.  It's up to the federal government if they want to deport.”

So Dreamers here in Phoenix and nationwide are celebrating the President's order.  Still Ileana Salinas said she wants more.

“I cannot make plans for rest of my life with just a two year work permit. I want to be here permanently and contribute to my country, America,” said Salinas.  “So I will keep fighting for the Dream Act and comprehensive immigration reform.”

Now these Dreamers and critics of the President might not agree on much but they do agree that immigration reform is necessary and both sides hope this policy change forces Congress to finally act.