World

Latin America has high praise for Obama's executive action on immigration

Sebastian Montalvan, left, who has been living in the country illegally, joined dozens of others who are here illegally, as well as activists and supporters to celebrate President Barack  Obama's executive action on illegal immigration, at a at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Sebastian Montalvan, left, who has been living in the country illegally, joined dozens of others who are here illegally, as well as activists and supporters to celebrate President Barack Obama's executive action on illegal immigration, at a at a news conference in Sacramento, Calif., Friday, Nov. 21, 2014.(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto praised President Barack Obama on Friday for his executive orders granting new rights to millions of people living illegally in the United States, calling it "an act of justice."

Mexicans are believed to account for more than half of the roughly 11.2 million migrants living in the U.S. without authorization. Mexico had long pressed for better conditions for them.

Peña Nieto said in a speech that Obama's plan "is an act of justice that recognizes the large contributions that millions of Mexicans have made to the development of our neighbor."

"These measures represent relief for immigrants, especially Mexicans," he said. "Those who will benefit are Mexican migrants who have been living in the United States for years."

In Honduras, President Juan Orlando Hernández issued a statement saying that "the decision benefits Honduras and tens of thousands of families."

"This decision makes the United States stronger and will send a powerful message of solidarity with Latin America," Hernández said.

El Salvador's foreign minister, Hugo Martínez, said that because of Obama's actions "many of our countrymen will get temporary relief for their immigration status."

But the Salvadoran government also said it is preparing an information campaign warning its citizens about migrating in hopes of qualifying under Obama's orders.

"We are informing people that this is a transitional measure that only benefits those Salvadorans who arrived (in the United States) prior to Dec. 31, 2009. Any others won't qualify under this measure," said Liduvina Magarin, El Salvador's assistant minister for Salvadorans abroad.