WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabweans living in America have welcomed President Barack Obama’s executive order granting undocumented and law-abiding immigrants, who have been staying in the country for five years, a temporary deportation reprieve.
Some of those of who have been staying in the country for a long time without regularizing their status told VOA Studio 7 the executive order gives them a chance to become legal USA residents.
President Obama laid out his plan in a White House speech Thursday night, bypassing Congress and enraging Republicans who say they will do all in their power to scuttle his plan.
"If you've been in America for more than five years; if you have children who are American citizens or legal residents; if you register, pass a criminal background check, and you're willing to pay your fair share of taxes - you'll be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily, without fear of deportation. You can come out of the shadows and get right with the law."
The executive order, which will take effect in around six months, offers temporary work permits to around 4.7 million immigrants who entered the country illegally.
Republicans slammed the president's action as an amnesty, saying it will encourage new waves of illegal immigration. Many vowed an all-out fight to repeal the plan.
But most Zimbabweans living in America, including Dumaphi Mema of the Association of Zimbabweans Living Abroad, told VOA there are thousands of undocumented Zimbabweans staying illegally in the country who are set to benefit from the presidential decree.
His sentiments were echoed by Dr. Isaac Mwase, a member of the African Immigrants Caucus, who told VOA Studio 7's Jonga Kandemiiri that most Africans are happy with President Obama’s immigration plan.
The Democratic-controlled Senate passed an immigration reform bill more than a year ago, which was supported by both parties. But leaders in the Republican-controlled House have refused to bring a bill up for a vote.
It is not clear how Republicans will choose to fight Mr. Obama's order. Some have threatened to shut down the government, while others are looking for ways to ban funding for the plan.
Many have said they will challenge the order in court, but numerous legal experts have said that the president's moves have legal precedent.