NEW YORK — President Obama's executive order to temporarily halt deportation of some undocumented immigrants has provided hope to them, but it also has put many families and friends on opposite sides of a divide.
Monica Sibri and Yohan Garcia are friends. Garcia came to the United States when he was 15, Sibri when she was 16. He is eligible to remain in the country for now; she is not.
President Obama this year drew a line. Immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally at age 15 or younger are eligible to stay for at least two years.
"Now, let's be clear," said Obama. "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix."
But not everyone meets those requirements. Sibri, 20, is from Ecuador and is a student at the College of Staten Island.
"Half of my family is here and my parents are here. If I go back to Ecuador, I have no one," said Sibri.
Garcia, 25, says he feels lucky that he is eligible to legally stay, but he worries about Sibri and others who may be forced to leave.
"I feel that students like her with great talents should be given the opportunity to do something great in this country," said Garcia. "She is getting her education here. I think she will be a great asset to the United States of America."
Immigrant Lourdes Romero is eligible to stay, but still has concerns.
"I felt I can now fly and so on, accomplish all these things that I always dreamt of, but at the same time I kept thinking about all these people that are not eligible," said Romero.
The immigrants are not the only ones with an opinion. Joanna Marzullo is with a group that opposes Obama's order. "Obama is incorrect in allowing illegal alien trespassers to remain in this country or to make it easier for them," said Marzullo.
Father Bob Vitaglione at the Sacred Heart church in Brooklyn calls Obama's policy a noble gesture, but he wants a change in attitudes.
"Our undocumented immigrants of today are, in effect, 20th century slaves," said Vitaglione. "They work on minimum or below minimum wage. They'll do the dirtiest, scuzziest jobs, which in the old days slaves would have done."
More than 100,000 people have applied for the president's so-called deferred action.
The administration hopes Congress will pass a law allowing young adults brought to the U.S. illegally as children to eventually become U.S. citizens. But in the meantime, for those not eligible under his plan, they will either be deported, return home voluntarily or remain in the United States as illegals.