Immigrants have a reason to fear a Republican president
With graduation around the corner, many seniors are celebrating. But for some, the battle over the fate of 4 million immigrants in the U.S. heard in Supreme Court last Monday is their own, and now is not the time to celebrate.
“Most of these students are here on student (F-1) visas, which allow them to remain in the United States for a period of 12 months after they have completed their degree for the purpose of training. If the student obtained a degree in a STEM field, then (they) would be permitted to remain for an additional period of 17 months,” said Evangeline M. Chan, immigration law attorney and assistant professor of Immigration Law at CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Hunter College.
“After that, students will no longer be in valid status and will have 60 days to make the necessary arrangements to depart the United States.”
Once students stop studying or graduate, the clock starts ticking. If too much time passes, an immigrant can accrue unlawful presence.
If an immigrant stays for more than 180 days but less than a year and leaves before being deported, they will be barred from entering for another three years. After one year passes, they may be banned for 10 years. Any longer, and they could be banned for life.
Last week the justices listened to arguments regarding President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs. At a glance, it seems that the Supreme Court itself is sharply divided.
“This case is a classic clash between powers of the executive and the powers of Congress,” said South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman.
It is an age-old question of separation of powers and which branch of government is truly able to make laws.
“The outcome will depend on who the next president is,” Blackman said.
Currently, none of the Republican candidates are considering even a moderate stance on immigration.
“I really find it amazing that Donald believes he is the one who discovered the issue of illegal immigration,” said Republican candidate Ted Cruz. “I can tell you that when I ran for Senate here in the state of Texas, I ran promising to lead the fight against amnesty, promising to fight to build a wall.”
But concerns about the changes to come are on a more personal level. Undocumented students and families anxiously watch the political tides and they struggle to find a way to truly enter society. Should the court choose to support Obama’s plan, millions of undocumented immigrants could begin to work in the U.S. legally.
But states like Texas are leading the charge against Obama’s immigration measures.
Texas believes that it has standing to sue because providing immigrants with driver’s licenses would be too costly.
One common belief prevalent in Texas is that most illegal immigrants are from Mexico, and many politicians would have the public believe that the problem is only getting worse.
But according to the Pew Research Center, “…in the past, nearly half of Republicans supported changing the Constitution to bar birthright citizenship, and a majority supported building a fence along the entire U.S. border with Mexico.”
But according to a recent study by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, “The nation with the most visitors who failed to leave at the end of their authorized stay was Canada, followed by Mexico and Brazil.” Other top countries included Germany, Italy and the United Kingdom.
If a wall is to be built, it should be built on the border of Canada, not Mexico.
Pew Research Center also found that the study “includes no reliable trend data that could shed light on whether overstays are growing or declining.”
The children of immigrants, who I have had the pleasure of calling my peers in the past, do not fit the stereotypes perpetuated today. One had a family member who taught law at Yale, studied abroad and fluently spoke three languages – none of which were Spanish. Another’s parents owned a flourishing business and was classically trained to play the cello.
These are individuals indistinguishable from citizens, and we should not be so quick to allow our own misconceptions steer our country.
Contributing writer Sarah Kim is a political science senior and may be reached at [email protected]