TAMPA BAY, Fla. -- Jose Manuel Godinez-Samperio wants to be an immigration lawyer and even passed the bar last year, but the New College and Florida State University grad is an undocumented immigrant, so he hasn't yet been able to achieve his dream.
Now, President Obama's executive order, issued on Friday, could help ease the way.
That executive order would stop deportation and authorize work permits for undocumented immigrants under the age of 30, many of whom were brought to the United States by their parents. In order to be eligible, they must have moved to the country before the age of 16, been in the country for at least five years, and graduated high school, completed a GED, or joined the military without a criminal record.
"I've been waiting for this for over 10 years," Godinez-Samperio says. "I'm very happy that this is finally happening, but on the other hand, I know that this is not a permanent solution."
Andrea Ortiz and her family moved here from Colombia to escape violence. She's a documented immigrant, but advocates strongly for those who aren't.
"This is their dream, to be able to be recognized, be able to have a job, or not fear that they're going to be sent away," she says. "If we gave people an opportunity, think about how much more we'd be able to do."
Ortiz sees the announcement made by President Obama as a political move, but also as a move in the right direction that could spark conversation about more progress.
Ortiz and Godinez-Samperio both work with the organization Students Working for Equal Rights. Now that President Obama has issued the executive order, SWER is opening up its phone lines to answer questions from people who may be affected by it. People can access it Monday through Friday between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. at (305) 571-7254.
"We need to struggle because otherwise nothing happens," Godinez-Samperio says. "If we don't go out there and actually fight for this, nobody is going to care."