Day laborers who watched the president's speech Tuesday at the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, a day labor center on Mission Boulevard, said they felt left out of Obama's call to allow the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living inside the United States a chance to become legal.
Why? While praising immigrants' roles in establishing large companies like Google or Intel, Obama also boasted of his administration's role in deporting illegal-immigrant criminals and called for increased border security and "cracking down" on businesses who hire undocumented immigrants.
"When he talked about border security, the room just died," said Javier Hernandez, a co-founder of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition who watched the speech with day laborers in Pomona.
To the audience at the day- labor center, Obama did not indicate that he wants to create a pathway to citizenship for those who work day jobs in construction, cleaning houses or caring for children.
"People like us, let's say, we earn money like this. He didn't mention that," said day laborer Edward Aguilar, 31, of Pomona. "He did mention security at the border and probably deporting more people, and that affects us too."
Aguilar said he was brought to the United States when he was three years old and is undocumented.
Sentiments at the Pomona day laborers' center illustrate how different groups of people can listen to the same speech - but hear two completely different messages.
Conservative websites such as Breitbart.com or Townhall.com published critical coverage of the president's speech with headlines such as "Obama: No Border Security Before Path to Citizenship" or "Obama's Immigration Plan: Expedite 11 Million Illegal Immigrants to Citizenship."
Obama's speech, delivered in Las Vegas, followed a call Monday by eight Republican and Democratic senators for new immigration laws. The Senate group includes Republican Marco Rubio of Florida, seen by many as a likely presidential contender in 2016.
But among those in Pomona, support from leading Republicans and Democrats was not enough to convince them that new immigration laws are on the horizon.
"I'm hoping that it's real and they're saying what they actually mean," said Jesus Barrios, also a member of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition.