Greisa Martinez is too nervous to call her mother. She’s waiting until she knows whether the executive action President Obama will announce Thursday in a primetime address will give her mother a reprieve from the fear that at any time she could be arrested, separated from her family and deported.
“I couldn’t get myself to call just yet, until it’s a reality,” Martinez explained. “It would be hard for me to have words to say to her without knowing something concrete.”
Rumors of who will be included in Obama’s orders and who will be left out spread through the media this week. Some are contradictory, heightening the tension as millions of undocumented residents and their families await the announcement. The New York Times, for example, reported in its Thursday edition that farm workers would not receive special protection. But the president of the United Farmworker Union said that he’d been told at a White House meeting on Wednesday that Obama planned to include at least a quarter of a million agricultural laborers.
Martinez’s mother, Elia, will probably hear good news tonight. Two of Elia’s four daughters are US citizens, and it’s widely reported that Obama’s plan will cover parents like her. Elia, who lives in Dallas, Texas, has been a single mother since her husband was deported in 2009, a task made even more difficult by the fact that she lacked a driver’s license and a work permit. She got her daughters to college, but Martinez said that even the commute to work caused her mother great anxiety. She hopes that Obama’s announcement will turn ordinary activities like shopping for her sister’s wedding dress from a hazard to ordinary fun. “She’ll have peace of mind to enjoy those moments,” Martinez speculated. “She can finally feel a little bit safe.”
Obama is also expected to eliminate the age limit for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which Martinez is protected by. (She’s also an organizer with United We Dream, a youth-led immigrant-rights organization.) But the fate of parents whose children are eligible for DACA but are not citizens is unclear. The Times and other outlets reported Thursday that these immigrants would not be given the chance to remain in the United States and work legally.