Nicaragua migrant 'optimistic' about Obama plan

She has lived in the shadows for 14 years, in fear of deportation.

But now Bertha Sanles of Nicaragua is hoping immigration measures to be announced by President Barack Obama will be a source of hope.

"I am very optimistic. I always believed in him," the 36-year-old Sanles said of the president.

"A lot of bubbles burst. A lot of people stopped believing, but I never lost faith," she said at her apartment in Miami, where she lives with her husband, who also lacks papers, two daughters, three dogs and a turtle.

Obama is to lay out plans Thursday for executive action to fix what he calls broken laws that have left millions of undocumented migrants like Sanles in limbo.

The president has not yet revealed any details. But officials have suggested his order may give undocumented parents of children born in the United States greater protection from deportation proceedings and allow them to travel legally.

Such moves could affect up to five million of America's estimated 11 million undocumented migrants from deportation.

"I am overjoyed, happy, nervous," said Sanles, who said she cried when she learned of Obama's announcement.

Sanles said she is waiting to see what is in store but is aware of what the press is saying the president might do -- perhaps work permits for illegals who have lived in the United States for a long time and protection from deportation -- to help people like her.

Sanles cleans other people's houses for a living and drives without a license: in Florida, she has no right to one because she lacks residency papers.

Leah, her younger daughter, is a US citizen because she was born here.

But Sanles herself has lived on the sly since arriving here 14 years ago in search of a better life than the one she had in her destitute homeland in Central America.

Sanles is mainly worried about what would become of Leah, were she to be deported.

Her other daughter, Christell, who is 20 and was born in Nicaragua, was able to sign up for the so-called DACA program -- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

Obama launched it in 2012 to give temporary residency to young people who arrived in this country before the age of 16.

- 'Blessed' -

"I feel blessed," said Sanles. She is confident she and her husband will be among the approximately five million people that might benefit from the changes Obama is to order after comprehensive reforms failed to win passage in Congress.

"My family will no longer live in fear like we do now and could have a better future," she said.

With papers, Sanles says she looks forward to getting a driver's license, having car insurance in her name and buying a house someday.

"Maybe it will not be tomorrow, but I have that relief," said Sanles, who is active in a migrant advocacy group called Familias Unidas, or United Families.

Sanles became active when Christell could not complete her studies to be a medical aide due to her status.

"It was impossible. She did not graduate," Sanles said, with tears in her eyes.

- 'Temporary relief' -

Sanles is aware that Obama's executive orders will mean temporary help, and that a lasting solution will come only with broader law passed by Congress.

"I understand that it is temporary relief. But you know what is worse? To not have anything, because every day I walk around in fear."

Sanles, who was raised by a neighbor because her parents and grandmother died when she was young, plans to view Obama give his "historic message" along with other activists and to celebrate with them.

But she will waste no time in pushing for definitive reform.

"We have to keep up the pressure," she said.

Republicans halted in the House of Representatives an immigration reform passed in the Senate in 2013.

That change aimed to set out a path in which the more than 11 million people living in the United States, most of them Latin American, could normalize their status.

"We have to press Congress, especially the Republican lawmakers," she said.

"We have to focus on them, and let them know that we are here and not going anywhere."