In Southwest, New Immigration Policies Bring Frustration From All Sides Anger and disappointment with Obama's executive action has been swift, and isn't just being voiced by anti-illegal immigration groups. Some immigrant rights supporters call the moves inadequate.

In Southwest, New Immigration Policies Bring Frustration From All Sides

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel, and we begin this hour with some reaction to the president's executive action on immigration. Opposition has been vocal and swift from anti-illegal immigration activists. The news has also been met with disappointment from the agricultural industry and even some supporters of immigrant rights, NPR's Kirk Siegler reports this is especially the case in the Southwest.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: Even before the details of the president's executive action came down, William Gheen was hitting the phones, organizing protests outside the Las Vegas High School Mr. Obama is visiting today.

WILLIAM GHEEN: I don't know what's going to be effective. I don't think anybody ever expected that the president of the United States would side with an illegal immigrant invasion over American citizens' interests, but that's what's happened here.

SIEGLER: Gheen is president of one the country's largest anti-illegal immigration packs, Americans for Legal Immigration. Activists like him are upset over the way President Obama acted as he did. Under the plan, parents of U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents will be eligible for possible deportation relief as will hundreds of thousands more young people. But make no mistake, the mounting protests are about a lot more than procedure.


SIEGLER: Protesters began gathering early this morning outside Del Sol High School in Las Vegas waving signs that read, amnesty, hell no. Patrice Lynes drove over from Riverside, California.

PATRICE LYNES: The American people spoke loud and clear at the last election, and they wanted no amnesty, and they overwhelmingly elected Republicans.

SIEGLER: Lynes was one of the protesters this past summer in Murrieta, California, where buses carrying unaccompanied minors were turned away from a Border Patrol processing center. She supports the House Republicans who blocked the bipartisan immigration bill that passed the U.S. Senate in 2013. Illegal immigration has long been a lightning rod issue in the Southwest, but it's one that also tends to cut right across traditional party lines. For instance, conservative leaning farm groups are among those also disappointed by the president's action, but for far different reasons.

TOM NASSIF: That does not get us any closer to resolving a very difficult, national problem.

SIEGLER: This is Tom Nassif, CEO of the influential Western Growers Association. Farmers did not get any special attention in the president's plan. They've long lobbied Congress for a guest worker program that would provide deportation relief to immigrants willing to stay working on farms for at least 5 years. The industry says it's facing a long-term labor crisis in California and Arizona.

NASSIF: We all agree I think that the best solution is for the U.S. Congress to reassert its constitutional authority and pass immigration bills that both parties can vote for and can become law.

SIEGLER: Nassif doesn't think the president's unilateral action will necessarily change the dynamics in Congress though. He's optimistic that an overhaul bill will still gain traction come January. It's safe to say that optimism isn't as pervasive in cities like Los Angeles. In the immigrant-heavy neighborhoods around the markets and pop-up shops of Alvarado Street, life will likely go unchanged for thousands of people living here without papers. Justin Mora has mixed feelings about the president's plan. He's a student at UCLA who got deportation relief the last time the president issued an executive action on immigration two years ago.

JUSTIN MORA: You know, this is not really expensive. So it's going to keep out a lot of people who could, you know, contribute so much to our country.

SIEGLER: Amora's mom brought him here from Mexico when he was 11. He says the family was fleeing extreme poverty and domestic violence. Because he's not a US citizen, she won't be eligible for relief under the president's plan.

MORA: Which is, you know, something that is frustrating. Knowing that she was basically the person that saved my life, saved my siblings life and has sacrificed so much to, you know, give us a better opportunity.

SIEGLER: But Mora says the president's decision to act alone does send a clear message to Congress. The big question now is what that chamber's next move will be. Kirk Siegler, NPR News.

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