MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- President Barack Obama says the time to change the nation's immigration system is now, and he's taking action to make that happen. He has announced an executive action that will shield five million immigrants currently in the United States from deportation, including undocumented parents of children born in the States. Meanwhile, Republicans are questioning the President's right to bypass Congress and act on his own.
Dozens of immigrants and their children packed a banquet hall on Milwaukee's south side to watch the President's prime time address. Some were happy to learn they might qualify for new protections. Others were upset, knowing the President's executive order won't apply to them.
Twin sisters Berenice and Julia Basurto were born in the United States 14 years ago. That could make their parents eligible for protection under President Obama's executive order.
"My parents might actually have a chance of getting benefits and having a chance to stay in the United States and having them for us and our future," Berenice Basurto said.
Alma Lopez wasn't born here, so her parents won't qualify even tough Alma herself is protected by the DREAM Act.
"I feel sort of guilty and upset just because they`ve given up so much for me to be able to get my education and them not being able to have that, it upsets me a little bit," Lopez said.
Many conservatives are upset -- but for a different reason. The believe President Obama's order is unconstitutional -- that he can't dictate immigration policy without Congressional approval.
"I think you`d be hard-pressed not to find anyone but a partisan Democrat who wouldn`t say this is illegal," Governor Scott Walker said.
Milwaukee immigration lawyer Jerome Grzeca says the White House will argue it isn't changing immigration law. Rather, Obama is prioritizing how the government enforces existing laws.
"You don`t pursue every case. You don`t. If someone is going 58 in a 55mph zone, there`s discretion there as well, so I think their argument is the same thing - that we have the authority to exercise discretion here," Grzeca said.
The Basurto twins aren't thinking about constitutionality -- at least not now.
"There`s a chance (our parents) can stay with us, that we aren`t afraid to just be left behind, that they`re gonna be here, at least for a little while longer," Julia Basurto said.
Governor Walker says he thinks Republicans should take President Obama to court over this. Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner says he'll do everything in his power to reverse the executive order.
Meanwhile, Voces de la Frontera, which hosted the watch party will host a meeting on Saturday morning, November 22nd at South Division High School to answer questions.