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Local Advocates React To President's Decision To Delay Immigration Reform Action

By Cherri Gregg

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - In Philadelphia, immigration advocates who have been pushing for reforms for years gave their reaction to President Obama's recent decision.

Anger, frustration and confusion include the range of emotions experienced among immigrant families after hearing that the President will delay executive action on immigration reform until after the November election.

"We're really trying to understand why President Obama would do that," says Blanca Pacheco, a community organizer for New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia.

She says President Obama's fear of political backlash will have a huge human impact:

"His decision is going to affect more than 100,000 families whose [family members] will be deported from now until November," she says, "so we are really disappointed that he had promised something and he had failed, but he is acting out of fear...but we are not afraid anymore."

Natasha Kelemen, executive director of the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition, says immigration advocates will redouble their efforts to see long awaited comprehensive reforms passed:

"Our movement has only grown stronger over the past couple of years. We have allies across different communities. We believe that there is a strong mandate from the American public to address immigration. It is one of the most pressing problems today. We expect that this is an issue that will be addressed in the coming months."

Philadelphia advocates for immigration reform got a huge win this summer when the city agreed to end ICE holds -- the city's practice of voluntarily holding those with questionable immigration status for federal Immigration Control and Enforcement.  Groups lobbied the city for many months to pass the measure and say that win gives them hope that similar success can be attained at the federal level.

"With the strength of community organizing, with the strength of our people, this will happen," says Miguel Andrande, youth organizer for Juntos. "We've gotten this far because our community is out there marching and rallying and talking to political officials....and people will continue to work hard to make changes in this country."

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