By Yesenia Robles
Immigration supporters in Colorado reacted with excitement and cautious optimism Thursday following the Obama administration's announcement that deportation cases will be dismissed for undocumented students and other low-priority immigration offenders.
"It is a sign of the times," said Julien Ross, executive director of the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalition. "We've been living with harsh immigration enforcement and an increase in (deportations) the last couple of years. The question is, will this be followed?"
For others, like Kristee Paschall, political director at Metro Organizations for People, an organization that aims to bring communities together, the news was just exciting.
"We are taking it in good faith," Paschall said. "There are dozens of families that have been affected locally in recent months, and this is great news for them."
There is no estimate of how many of the more than 300,000 deportation cases currently being reviewed involve immigrants in Colorado.
For Ross at the CIRC, concerns lie in the local implementation and in the next steps for the rest of the estimated 12 million undocumented immigrants in the country.
"The devil is in the details," Ross said. "It's a significant step forward, but we will be monitoring implementation very closely."
Politicians voiced differing opinions.
U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., released a statement Thursday supporting the move.
"This announcement is welcome news to kids who know no other home than this country and their families who are hanging in limbo worrying every day about the possibility of being deported," Bennet said. "Limited law enforcement resources should be focused on criminals and threats to our national security."
But former U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo, R-Colo., said he will be looking for a way to challenge the move.
"I'm just furious," Tancredo said. "I would think it's illegal, but I guess that's for a court to decide. This is a jobs agenda, but the jobs are for illegal immigrants."
And Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., said, "Today's decision by the Obama administration to effectively grant backdoor amnesty to many illegal immigrants facing deportation usurps the authority of Congress."
For Sujey and Violeta Pando, a married lesbian couple in Denver, the news couldn't be more timely.
The couple are fighting to stay together at an immigration hearing today.
Sujey is an undocumented immigrant, and Violeta is an American citizen.
"It is a very, very good day for all lesbian and gay couples who are in deportation proceedings because of the acknowledgment that they are included as families," said their attorney, Lavi Soloway.