Immigration, overhaul policies Obama’s last chance to fix system
Although President Barack Obama’s plan to allow millions of immigrants to live and work in the United States may anger many Americans, this plan will benefit the country in the long-run. The broad overhaul of the U.S. immigration enforcement system will protect up to five million unauthorized immigrants from deportation.
Obama will announce a plan to overhaul the nation’s immigration system, according to the New York Times. The plan will provide many immigrants with work permits, allowing them to stay in the U.S., as well as protecting the parents of legal American children. Families will no longer have to worry about their discovery or the threat of separation.
According to a study executed by the Migration Policy Institute, this plan would provide relief for an estimated 11.7 million unauthorized immigrants. The Obama administration would expand the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, deferred action to new populations and refine the enforcement priorities to shrink the pool of those who would face deportation.
The study also found that an estimate of three million unauthorized immigrants lived in the U.S. for 15 or more years as of 2012. About 5.7 million illegal immigrants have lived in the country for at least 10 years and 8.5 million for at least five years.
Current border patrol and immigration efforts at the U.S. and Mexico border of trying to keep people out has not been effective, with the study being supportive evidence that this method was not a strong way to approach illegal immigration.
By narrowing the definition of “recent illegal immigrants” to individuals apprehended within just one year of entering U.S. borders, there would be an estimated 232,000 reduction of removals. Excluding non-citizens exclusively convicted of traffic offenses and non-violent crimes would reduce removals by over half a million people.
The criteria for deferred action includes the length of U.S. residence, close family ties to American citizens, legal permanent residents or DACA beneficiaries, or the potential eligibility for a green card as the immediate relative of a U.S. citizen.
Time Magazine reported that an expert said Obama’s actions to defer deportations won’t increase illegal immigration. Doris Meissner, director of the Migration Policy Institute’s immigration policy work, told Time Magazine that evidence has shown illegal immigration across the southwest border is at its lowest level since the early ’70s.
Under Obama’s new overhaul, immigrants will have to have been living in the country for at least five years to qualify. As of now, there is no eligibility for people coming forward in the future because it only applies to the outlined stipulations.
“Both my parents are immigrants, so I understand the struggle it is to become a citizen in the United States,” said pre-business sophomore Consuelo Mercader. “Some people may view that as unfair or unreasonable, but I see it as an opportunity for a fresh start.”
This take on foreign policy will give illegal immigrants the opportunity for legal status as they live and work in the U.S., which is the reason people emigrate to America in the first place. The new policy gives them a piece of the American Dream as they work for it.
While the policy has been met with opposition from Republicans and people worried about job security and competition, it will further support the changing demographic of the nation. Business sophomore Noor Nemry said she believes this plan is a step forward and that it’s time for immigrants to “step out of the shadows” and grasp this “opportunity to be given a chance to work and succeed.”
The plan is Obama’s last chance to make good on his word to fix the immigration system. Many pro-immigration advocates and groups are expecting bold action from the White House, but Obama is expected to be consistent with current immigration laws in whatever he will end up doing. Even though a Republican president could end up reversing Obama’s overhaul of the system after January 2017, the new program will remove the threat of deportation of millions for now.
Instead of trying to deter immigrants from the U.S., we should be welcoming and understanding of why they want to come to our country in the first place. Immigrants hold the same values as any American citizen: hard work, a strong family and the freedom to live a better life.
“These immigrants have been living in fear, and it’s refreshing to give them the freedom we take for granted here,” Mercader said.
Opinion columnist Gemrick Curtom is a public relations senior and may be reached at [email protected]