Immigration attorney: Long-term fix for reform still needed

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. -- It's a plan that will shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation, allowing them  to apply for work permits in the United States.

But the plan, officially unveiled by President Barack Obama Thursday night by way of executive action, is far from the permanent solution many advocates were hoping and looking for when it comes to immigration reform.

“The deferred action process that is possible through executive action only means that we’re not going to deport you for this three year period, so it’s temporary, it’s not a path to citizenship," said Kim Clark, immigration attorney with Varnum Law based out of Grand Rapids.

Clark cautions this short term fix from the president doesn't mean a 'free pass' for undocumented immigrants and could actually prove to be more risky than rewarding.

“Right now many of these individuals are not known, they’re ‘living in the shadows’ as many have said and so they have to decide whether coming out of the shadows for a three year temporary benefit is worth the potential risk of not knowing what’s going to happen down the line," she said.

The president's executive action eases deportation fears for nearly five million undocumented immigrants by allowing them to apply for work permits. The plan, which also extends protections to undocumented parents of children who are U.S. citizens, is one Republicans have argued will only encourage more people to enter the country unlawfully.

There's already been talk of a lawsuit against the Obama administration, and given the president's unwavering stance on the issue, some have expressed concern calling for an executive action on the issue could hurt chances of a bi-partisan fix.

“It’s really unknown how this is going to play out and I really hope cooler minds prevail and we find a way to sit down and everyone always wishes D.C. work together better than they do," Clark said.

"It’s time to really look at this and get it figured out, but the executive action did not figure it out.”

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