Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.
Immigration is always a hot-button issue, and can even be a vote-changing one, because it gets to the heart of who we believe we are as Americans and as people. For many readers at CNN.com, the Obama administration's announcement that it will give a two-year deferral from deportation to some young immigrants who came to the United States as children - if they meet certain requirements - is symbolic of society's attitude toward immigration in general.
Quite a few commenters were dismayed, because they have been hoping for politicians to take a hard stance against illegal immigration.
dfr333: "Congratulations Romney, you just got my vote, and I did not even want to vote for you ..."
Rachel1989: "Again, this just riled up the Republican base even more and made Romney look good. This just cost Obama the election."
Some readers were happy because they were afraid someone they knew would be deported.
jboo10141: "I knew a girl in college who was a third year medical student and was fighting against getting deported because her family came here when she was 6. This is a great move. I applaud Obama for standing and doing what he thinks is right. So many young children who came here went to college or went to war and have been doing everything they can to live a fulfilling life now have the chance to do so. Keep up the good work."
Does illegal immigration hurt the United States, and how? Readers don't agree.
starspangled: "We're struggling economically as it is, and now Obama will add more pressure on the poor and middle-class citizen. We cannot continue taking in Latin America into this nation."
PoppyLee: "They're already here. We're just letting them join legally, pay taxes and all that."
Was the decision about political posturing to win over certain groups?
USExpatInCan: "Nothing but a cheap tactic to get re-elected. Obama will sell his soul to the devil if he could to get re-elected. Man, he is desperate."
Max: "These people can't vote. How will they help him get re-elected. Do you think before you type?"
Some readers talked about their family's own history of immigration.
jwm57: "I am a 'real American.' Some of my ancestors were here before 1650, and all immigrated before 1820. Several served in the Revolutionary War, and more recently in the two World Wars. I vote. I pay taxes. I have never been arrested – never even got detention in school. I support the president on this. My ancestors were able to come here legally because there were no restrictions on immigration when they came; I don't know how my family history would have been different if it were as difficult to immigrate from Europe in the 1700s as it is to immigrate from Mexico today. These young adults did not choose to come here, but those targeted by this change have acculturated and proven themselves as responsible members of our society. We should make at least a partial return to our roots and show some fairness here."
Some people reacting to the decision were legal immigrants or those seeking permanent status. Many of them expressed frustration that greater attention isn't being paid to their issues.
Commenter houstoniano, whose real name is Aldrin Nunes of Houston, said greater attention needs to be paid to legal immigration.
"I cannot believe it; I've been in this country for 12 years with my family studying, working, paying my taxes and bills and etc. ..., never had a problem with justice; I had two little American girls, and I am still waiting in the line to get my green card that I will probably have in 2014. That's seven years waiting for a document, and people who get in this country illegally will have much more privilege than I have and never paid a dime to the government. I am talking about H1B work visa, H4 dependent visa and F1 visa."
We followed up with him, and he responded to explain that while Obama's announcement is a two-year deferral rather than citizenship or amnesty, he believes that the affected people will eventually have a "path to citizenship" that affords them studying, a job and the ability to look forward to getting a green card. Nunes said he wishes he could travel to see his family and his elderly grandmother, but the green card application process makes it difficult.
"This law doesn't affect me, but it is outrageous that the government does not care about the legal immigrants who are making extra efforts to be here legally," Nunes said. "I want to clarify that I am not against those people receiving this benefit. What I am saying is that people like me should have some kind of consideration at this point."
Another reader, also claiming to be a legal immigrant, expressed stronger emotions in their comment.
godcloud: "As a LEGAL immigrant who got to this country the RIGHT way. Paid my dues and worked really hard to get my citizenship. This really pisses me off! Guess what Obama, here is a voter who can legally vote who is not going to vote for you! By doing this you are making the hard work it takes for a true LEGAL immigrant mean nothing. Stop calling these people immigrants. They are criminals. There is a reason why we call them ILLEGALS. God I hope this guy does not get re-elected."
Lolaz007: "Obama is MIA on immigration reform that would create a win-win for legal, skilled immigrants and the U.S. While he's busy pandering to a particular group, he could have taken a stand and been proactive in doing something about improving the process and quotas for legal, skilled immigrants (H1B visa program). And I have to wonder: How do legal immigrants and those who are paying thousands of dollars (I've heard that it can cost anywhere from $10-20K) for their work visas feel about Obama's latest action?"
There was some discussion about the political process by which this decision arose.
Susan Reaney: "Don't you just love those executive orders where the president BYPASSES CONGRESS....NOT!"
DelishusCake: "Did I miss the part where they changed our immigration laws, or is he publicly stating that he wants to ignore our laws and just do whatever he feels is best? This is really unfair, what a shame. ..."
Many readers supporting the decision noted that the people in question came over as children.
Jayk Wiggins: "I am a staunch Republican who 100% agrees with this act. If people want to work then let them. These kids deserve just as much of a chance as any spoiled entitled American. If they took your job, then it's because you didn't deserve it. I've got a great friend who went to school for engineering with me, also placed at the top of our class, and now has to find work as a car mechanic just to pay his bills. He was brought over when he was 12, has not received any benefits from the government, and has paid far more of his fair share. Far more than most of the whinny racists in this country. Excluding him and others like him from the workforce is only hurting this country. I really wish my fellow Republicans were a little more respectful of liberty and a little less ignorant xenophobes."
Some readers explained that their opposition to the decision stems from wanting to prevent illegal immigration.
PoppyLee: "Great. No reason to punish the kids."
groled: "It's not about punishing them. This encourages illegals to bring children here and bring themselves. It's basically bait. I don't blame the kids. Heck, I don't blame the parents. Their country sucks and won't fix itself. But we have laws in place for a reason."
Should people be accountable for their parents' actions?
Guest: "I am shocked at the level of hatred on this blog. These kids are here through no fault of their own; perhaps all of you should be held accountable for what your parents did; so if your father, mother or siblings committed any crime, by your reasoning, you should be held accountable, too ... think about it."
theTH1NKER: "I am being held accountable for my parents' doings. Despite being valedictorian of my high school, I had to amass huge school loan debt because my dad's business went into bankruptcy and he couldn't even buy groceries. Twenty years later, I'm still digging out of that hole. If only I was eligible for minority scholarships back then. Hatred isn't an inherent trait. It's developed through experiences ... think about it."
And then there was this reader, who says they believe that this decision is an attempt to please various sides.
Bob Bichen: "A very reasonable compromise. It is time that we come to terms with our love/hate relationship with illegal immigration. We are happy to look the other way when our fruit and vegetables are picked, laundry washed and lawns mowed. For those who have worked and/or studied hard in school, and who have no criminal history, there is no justification for deportation, whether they are illegals or their children. The real problem is the broken and overtaxed bureaucracy related to immigration, citizenship applications and work permits. I have no problem deporting criminals, and there are at least some in the illegal category. But for the others, who just want a better life, they are actually a potential asset to this nation, just as our ancestors were who immigrated to this great country in years or centuries past."
Are we taking jobs away from teens, or are teens taking jobs away from themselves?
Steve1000: "Wonderful, American teens have among the highest unemployment rate. Obama has with this act made it even more difficult for them to find work. This pool of illegals will now legally be hired by companies that could not before due to I9 form requirements."
pithed: "If they are anything like my grandkids, they are too busy texting to even look for a job. Another issue, but I don't see anyone suffering that much around here. A lot of that 'economy is so bad' is garbage."
Some said the policy could be extended a bit.
icetemp: "I think this should go one step further. If you serve in the military you should be given automatic citizenship if you want it. These noncitizens are serving this country with their lives, while many 'citizens' sit on their fat backsides and don't lift a finger to do anything for America (except complain)."
So what will the decision mean for the election?
chozn1: "I cannot believe I voted for this guy."
RKW29: "This will be the nail that seals Obama's political coffin. The majority of Americans are against illegal immigration and this will not bode well for the moderate electorate."
johnnyChen: "Sometimes it's about what's right. ... Not what suits your re-election. ..."
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Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.