Immigration reform heats up as Obama and Congress add fuel to the flame
For years now, news about a broken immigration system has held my attention. A system that needs repair, or reformation. This stream of news has, to me, become the norm. It is the unheard, silent roar of my refrigerator, blaring so often, I barely notice anymore. It’s much more audible when I hear news of actual attempts at change.
Tired of waiting on Congress, Barack Obama has taken steps to keep families together. The recently announced Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, or DAPA, aims to keep parents of legitimate U.S. citizens from being deported away from their families. It would give eligible illegal immigrants the opportunity to receive work visas, social security numbers, and keep them from being deported for a period of three years. This period can be renewed prior to expiration for an additional three years, potentially granting permanent, legal residence in the United States. The president’s executive action, however, has been stalled by a federal judge in Texas along with the backing of twenty-five other states.
Judge Andrew Hanen called the actions of the president into question and wants a trial to resolve the legality of the issue. He and the copious governors backing his decision believe that they can overturn the president’s executive decision outright. The main reason the mostly republican governors want to overturn the order is its permanency. The renewability and social security numbers mean the affected people, estimated at numbering over 4 million, could potentially sign up for benefits the state has to pay for.
Judge Hanen wrote that the legalization of that many people’s presence within our borders would be “virtually irreversible…The genie would be impossible to put back into the bottle.” It should also be noted that, using that same logic, an additional 4 million legitimate work visas means that much more taxable income, which would help pay for all those new benefits.
The White House plans to appeal this order, and several immigrants’ rights groups have labeled the debacle a simple speed bump. A multitude of Republican Congressmen have threatened to cut funding for the Department of Homeland Security in an effort to force the president to call off his efforts. The fund cuts would be implemented on February 28, putting a significant portion of department employees on a temporary but possibly lengthy furlough.
As the bureaucratic battle wages on, I have to ask myself, what’s the harm? This action keeps families together, families that have lived here for years. Work visas mean that even if the illegals themselves aren’t deported, they no longer need work illegally, which opens up job opportunities for immigrant and citizen alike, as well as increase the taxable income. Stipulations within the order make sure it applies only to people’s living in the states during a certain time frame, so there won’t be a loophole allowing anyone to cross our borders tomorrow and pop out a kid to guarantee work visas and social securitySS cards. It’s a step towards change. It’s pressure to fix a system so broken that Iraqi translators under threat of death from terrorists for aiding American troops in the war have to wait years to gain access for them and their families to be allowed to enter, if they can enter at all.
Change was Obama’s mantra when he ran for the presidency, and immigration policy was near the top of that list. Nearly six years later, although he’s failed to directly change immigration policy, he’s at the least attempted to work around it, and I cannot fault him for that.
Kevin is a sophomore pursuing general studies.