Immigration Protest in Oakland Coincides With Administration’s Policy Shift

[Correction: When we first published this blog post, we mistakenly identified Ju Hong as part of a group protesting at Obama’s campaign headquarters in Oakland. Hong wasn’t part of that protest nor was he at the campaign headquarters. We regret the error. This blog post has since been corrected.]

Update 2:21 P.M The private security guards who have been watching over the student protestors in Obama’s Oakland campaign headquarters are no longer allowing the students to use the restroom. One student, Luis Serrano, left to use the bathroom and was not allowed back into the office. There are now only three students inside.

A group of protesters including several undocumented students walked into President Obama’s campaign office in Oakland Thursday afternoon and announced that they weren’t leaving until the President changed his policies on deportation.

President Obama explains his administration's shift in immigration policy. (whitehouse.gov)

On Friday morning President Obama did just that. Specifically, the U.S. will no longer deport law-abiding undocumented people who are younger than 30 and came to the U.S. before they were 16. They also need to have lived here for five years, have a high school diploma, be in school or serve in the military. These are many of the same elements of the federal DREAM Act, which Congress did not pass. While the presidents actions are not a direct result of the Oakland demonstration, it has given some renewed vigor.

“Prior to the policy I’d been fearing deportation every single day,” said Ju Hong a UC Berkeley graduate. “You know, some other students already got a deportation letter, they probably lost hope, but because of this new policy implementation now they will have opportunities to stay in this country,” he continued.

Some students are skeptical of the move — they feel it doesn’t go far enough.

“We’re taking a really critical approach to everything that was said. We had been promised by Obama that he would not deport people from our community and yet he continues to do so,” said Irving Pineda, another student participating in the Oakland action. He is originally from Mexico, but moved to East Palo Alto with his family when he was six. He graduated from UC Merced and will be directly affected by this policy change.

The Contra Costa Times is reporting that the Oakland Protest is part of a nationwide coordinated effort.

Watch video of President Obama’s speech on the policy change.

Obama explained his decision at a press conference in the Rose Garden.

“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans. They’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country. To expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents, or because the inaction of politicians.

He also emphasized what this is not.

Now let’s be clear this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship. This is not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.

Recent UC Berkeley graduate, New Latthi, gives a celebratory fist pump after the ceremony. (Mina Kim/KQED)

Undocumented young people have been dealing with these issues for a long time. KQED reporter Mina Kim featured one recent U.C. graduate, New Latthi, who has dreams of attending medical school. Prior to this announcement he worried he would be barred because of his immigration status.

To learn more on immigration in California and to view the state’s immigrant population by county visit our news and education blog The Lowdown.

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