"President Obama has opened the door for many of these youths to enter the United States until we get the Dream Act passed, or until we get comprehensive immigration reform," Baca, D-San Bernardino, told a Tuesday night gathering at St. Catherine of Siena Church in Rialto.
Those at the church included Estephany Flores, an undocumented student at San Bernardino Valley College who said she has sometimes been afraid of being deported but feels
"I was like, `No. No. You're lying. You're just doing this for publicity,"' Flores, 19, of San Bernardino said. "I'm happy. It's still not real to me."
The Tuesday night gathering was the first of two Baca plans to hold for those who may be eligible to apply for the ability to work in the United States despite having entered the country illegally as children or teenagers.
That became a possibility after Obama announced that a new "deferred action" policy that is essentially a watered-down version of various proposals that have been called the Dream Act. Those proposals have been debated in Congress but have never
Dream Act proposals revolve around the idea of granting legal residency to youths who entered the United States illegally before reaching adulthood but are otherwise law-abiding.
The Obama administration's plan would not technically grant legal status to undocumented immigrants, but the objections to the policy include the argument that the president, a Democrat, abused his power by ordering a Dream Act-like policy without congressional authorization.
"He (Obama) subverted the bonds of society. He subverted the law and consent of the people," said Raymond Herrera, founder of We The People, a Claremont-based group calling for strict enforcement of immigration law.
"The people will put an end to people like Joe Baca and people like Obama, and it's coming in November," Herrera said.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign promises his opposition to illegal immigration "magnets" and mentions that while governor of Massachusetts, he vetoed bills that would have provided in-state tuition rates or driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.
Pending the outcome of the election between Obama and Romney, his presumptive GOP challenger, the White House's new immigration policy only applies to those who entered the United States illegally before reaching the age of 16 and who have not yet attained the age of 30.
Those seeking to be protected from deportation under the new policy must also be able to prove they have been in the United States for five years and have no felonies or serious misdemeanors on record.
Applicants must also be a current student, possess a high school diploma or GED or have an honorable discharge from the military or Coast Guard.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates 1.4million may be able to avoid deportation under the White House's new policy. Pew Hispanic Center also reports the Obama administration has overseen an average of about 400,000 deportations per year, which is about 30percent greater than annual deportations during the second George W. Bush administration.
Baca's office plans to hold a second meeting on Obama's new immigration policy at 7p.m. Thursday at St. Mary Parish, 16550 Jurupa Ave., Fontana.