Chicago’s undocumented react to President Obama’s expected immigration announcement | WBEZ
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Chicago's undocumented react to President Obama’s expected immigration announcement

With blond hair framing blue eyes and rosy cheeks, Gerry, who asked to use a pseudonym for privacy issues, is almost never asked about his status. He came to the U.S. from Ireland in the 1990's. Gerry married an American and has a four-year-old son born here. But before he married and had his son, Gerry's visa expired. And that, according to his lawyers, makes Gerry ineligible for citizenship now.

By all accounts, Gerry is living the American Dream. He owns his own construction company. But his employees don't know about his illegal status in the U.S.

"You don't know how American people are going to take you. I just started working for this guy. This is my second job for him and I didn't want people to come out and say "Oh, my God, he's an illegal immigrant and he shouldn't be working here," Gerry said.

Gerry's hopes now hang on an executive order by President Obama that's expected to reprieve the deportation of a possible 5 million undocumented parents of American-born children.

But not everyone's happy with the move. A CBS/New York Times poll found 43% of those asked oppose the President's plan.

Alex Nowrasteh is with the Cato Institute, a conservative think tank. He says change should come from legislation, and not the president’s pen.

"If Republicans were going to pass immigration reform, and executive action poisons the well, then this is not a good way to do it," Nowrasteh said.

He believes almost all enforcement action and reforms to the legal immigration system such as extending guest worker visas or green cards can only be done through passing a law.

But President Obama has said he's doing what Congress failed to tackle.

As his eyes well up, Gerry admits he’s anxious. He says it would allow let him to leave the bricks behind to be a soccer coach and put to use his skills as a former semi pro player.

"My mother’s been calling me. Three times today, saying it’s on the news," Gerry said, "I hope something good comes of it. Parents all over the world will be so excited if their son can come home or their family can come home."

And Gerry adds that while having the freedom to change jobs is a privilege citizens, so is the freedom to travel to see family in the good times and the bad.

"My grandfather never missed a Thanksgiving for 17 years. He passed away two years ago. I couldn’t go back to the funeral or anything (in Ireland). That’s when it really hit home," Gerry said.

If the executive action doesn’t include him, Gerry says he may take his family back to Ireland, a country with 11% unemployment and struggling to craft its own legislation for its growing immigrant population . 

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