President Obama said his immigration plan is about "deporting felons, not families." While his executive actions may provide protection to millions of immigrants living in the United States illegally, some say their lives are still filled with uncertainty.
"We just want to be acknowledged in this society as human beings. I just want to be acknowledged that I exist," said Armando Ibanez, a 32-year-old undocumented worker in Los Angeles. "In general, I think you have to live in fear of being separated from your family any time, any moment."
Ibanez was born and raised in Mexico, but considers the United States home. He crossed the border illegally 14 years ago, and has been living in California ever since.
"Not having food to eat every day and seeing your mother struggling -- seeing your mother struggling to provide food, that's one of the sad memories I have from Mexico," a tearful Ibanez told CBS News.
His mother, along with his brother and sister, snuck into the United States a year before Armando.
His younger siblings will be allowed to stay temporarily under a special immigration program already in place for children, but President Obama's new immigration plan will not protect Armando or his mother from deportation since they came to the U.S. as adults.
"How am I supposed to come home and tell [my mother] she's not going to be a part of this?" said Ibanez. "I wish President Obama could come to my house and tell my mom that, because I can't."
Martha Arevalo is the Executive Director of CARECEN, a non-profit group in Los Angeles that provides education and legal services to 20,000 immigrants each year. Most of their clients are undocumented, according to Arevalo, who says she sees families being split apart every day.
"Every day people leave their homes and go to work and go to school with fear that when they come back their families are not going to be the same," Arevalo said.
Part of the President's plan, however, says does prioritize who should be deported. According to the Department of Homeland Security, those who entered the country illegally prior to January 1, 2014, and have never been convicted a serious offense or disobeyed a prior order to leave the country, will not be a priority for removal. Instead, security threats, gang members, and convicted felons will be at the top of the government's list for deportation.
"We want to stay together," Ibanez said. "Knowing that's not for sure makes me feel frustrated. It makes me feel frustrated because my life can change any second... I think the price of the American dream is living afraid."
Ibanez now attends community college part-time, while working as a full-time waiter to support his family. He hopes to transfer to a 4-year university, but worries his immigration status will prevent him from being accepted.
"Not being able to pursue my goals as everyone else is one of the biggest limitations that we have," he said. "What about when we want to contribute to this country, when we want to contribute to society?"
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