Anticipating Obama's coming immigration push

Erika Andiola
Erika Andiola, right, and her mother
CBS News

(CBS News) MESA, Arizona - In his inaugural address Monday, President Obama touched only briefly on immigration reform. But in the next few weeks, he is expected to propose changes that would put millions of illegal immigrants on the path toward U.S. citizenship.

It could be one of the biggest challenges in his second term.

"We need this president to push as hard as he can, because Latinos care about immigration and the election showed it," said Erika Andiola, a well-known immigrant rights activist in Arizona. "Our families can no longer be separated."

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She crossed the border illegally from Mexico with her mother when she was 11 years old. She was asked what she would say to people who point out she entered illegally.

"Give us a chance to be in the country -- to give back to the country. I think a lot of us have a lot to contribute," Andiola said.

President Obama's deferred deportation program allows those who came illegally as children to work or study in the U.S.

"It would definitely be a dream come true if I was to become a citizen," Andiola said.

Erika Andiola
Erika Andiola, right, and her mother CBS News

She recently lived every illegal immigrant's nightmare. Federal agents took her mother and brother from their home to be deported. Andiola jumped into activist mode. She posted a YouTube video about her experience.

Word went out on Twitter and Facebook.

"Just one organization was able to get 18,000 petitions in a matter of 12 hours.," Andiola said.

She even got members of Congress to call immigration authorities. Her brother and mother were released within 20 hours. Yet, Andiola points out, a record number of undocumented immigrants - almost 410,000 - were deported last year.

"This is why we need immigration reform," Andiola said. "I think it has to happen."

Hispanic political power helped release her mother -- helped elect a president -- and she's convinced it will forge a path to citizenship for millions like her and her mother.