Congressional Republicans and President Obama are headed for a showdown over his plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system unilaterally, but immigration advocates in New York are urging him to follow through.
Steven Choi, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, estimated that as many as half a million immigrants across the state could benefit from the changes, which would provide legal documents to many immigrants who are here illegally and dramatically reduce deportation proceedings.
“This will be the single largest legalization program in the last 30 years,” he said.
Choi likened implementation of any changes to a disaster recovery effort, saying “this is going to require a huge mobilization of New York’s nonprofit, business, local government, state government, federal government and resources all coming together.”
For many immigrants in New York, advocates believe the measures would prevent labor exploitation and incidents of wage theft. Grace Shim, executive director at the MinKwon Center, said some employees are forced to continue working for months without being paid.
“The employers will do that because they can,” she said.
The protections the President is said to be considering would also reduce the fears of immigrants being separated from their children, said Daniel Coates, a lead organizer at Make the Road New York.
“Because they’re always living with deportation in the back of their minds,” said Coates.
The president is facing a backlash from Republicans over the matter and threats of a government shutdown.
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