- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Thousands of illegal immigrants are expected to attend watch parties Thursday night where they will, literally, learn their fates as President Obama describes the outlines of his plans for a temporary amnesty.

Something as minor as a change in the eligibility date or the type of family relationship could determine whether millions of illegal immigrants end up on the legal side or whether they remain in the shadows, with varying degrees of danger for being deported.

And no matter what Mr. Obama announces Thursday night, it’s unlikely to satisfy the expansive demands that include not only granting legal status and work permits to most of the current 11 million illegal immigrants, but also allowing recently deported illegal immigrants who might otherwise have qualified to apply to come back.

At Adalberto United Methodist Church in Chicago, which makes immigration a special ministry, Pastor Emma Lozano said she’ll he sitting alongside people who are currently facing deportation as they hear what the president lays out.

“We’re going to be watching this very closely, people in my church. We’re going to have the TV on in both languages and really praying and hoping we get what we deserve,” she told The Washington Times.

Casa, a major immigrant-rights group based in Maryland and Virginia, plans three screening parties, while the New York Immigration Coalition announced three parties around the Big Apple.

“The president will detail his plans to take executive action to provide administrative relief to millions of immigrants,” the New York group said. “We expect such relief to be a program that offers a temporary solution for millions of families and workers around the country, offering protection from deportation and work authorization.”

Mr. Obama has a speech planned for 8 p.m. Thursday from the White House, which will be followed by another speech fleshing out details from Las Vegas on Friday.

The push for watch parties may actually have forced the White House to publicly acknowledge its plans a little earlier than it had wanted to.

As reports were spreading Wednesday, an AFL-CIO spokesman forwarded a message from the Alliance for Citizenship to reporters that laid out some of the details of the two speeches.

“Can folks begin to work and plan watch parties for Thursday and/or Friday?” Dawn Le, at the Alliance for Citizenship, wrote in the initial email that inadvertently got forwarded to reporters. “Unclear whether Thursday night content will be what is ‘celebratory,’ but Friday will be where we need a lot of energy guaranteed.”

The email asked advocates to round up locations and speakers and be sure to find out whether they spoke English and Spanish so they could be tailored for different press outlets.

While the organizing email seemed to push for a bigger showing Friday, most on-the-ground groups appear to be gearing up for Thursday’s prime-time speech as the key moment.

Activists have been pleading for relief since the beginning of Mr. Obama’s first term in office.

Once he does make his plans clear, the groups said they’ll kick into gear to try to help those people eligible for legal status to sign up.

Ms. Lozano, the Chicago pastor, said whatever the president does lay out, however, will fall short if it doesn’t apply to recently deported people who would have qualified for the new protective order had they still been here.

“We’re going to assist those that are going to be eligible for whatever he gives, but at the same time if it falls short we’re going to come down hard and continue the fight,” she said.

The White House would not publicly divulge details Wednesday about who would be included and who would be excluded from his amnesty.

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