Immigration: What’s happening now and what is yet to come?

Victoria Perez-Zetune

“Are we a nation that tolerates the hypocrisy of a system where workers who pick our fruit and make our beds never have a chance to get right with the law?” President Obama challenges Congress and our nation on Thursday November 20, 2014 when he made his announcement about his plan for immigration[1].

June 2012, President Barack Obama originally passed Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. This allowed individuals that arrived under the age of 31 before 2007 that met other background checks and requirements to obtain a worker’s permit, license, and relief from deportation[2]. This program caused great controversy, and Congress felt the president had overstepped his power, but Congress continued to fail to act. In 2013, the U.S. Senate successfully passed a bipartisan immigration bill. Unfortunately, once the bill arrived to the House of Representatives, the bill died without a vote. President Obama once again urges and reminds Congress that a passed bill would replace his new executive order[3].

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals gave relief to approximately 1.2 million undocumented youths, but the new announcement is predicted to cover 5 million individuals[4]. President Obama’s announced defined three main components that will be addressed. The first is an increase in border patrol. Attempting to further diminish illegal entrances into the United States, additional resources will be allocated to the border and to ensure rapid return to those caught. The second component is facilitating opportunities for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to remain the in country. Allowing high-skill workers to remain in the United States would fill vacant positions in our existing workforce with people that have the training as well as create jobs with new business created by these entrepreneurs. Finally, the President plans to “deal responsibly” with the undocumented immigrants in the United States. This means the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and the inclusion of parents of citizen children for undocumented individuals who arrived before 20101.

Controversy over President Obama’s new announcement once again has occurred. The country is split over the decision. Only 45% of Americans find it acceptable that the president acted alone on immigration according to a Quinnipiac survey, but 68% of people disagree that the government should shutdown again over immigration4. It is up to Congress what happens next. Defunding the program is not an option despite the rumors claiming it is a possibility. Fees by users fund the program and Citizenship and Immigration Services would continue operating regardless of a government shutdown[5]. Congress is due to pass a new spending bill by December 12 or the government will stop all operations again. Even though this will not impact the new immigration plans, a government shutdown is a worry among Americans. Immigration, also, has not been resolved; this just a temporary solution. President Obama’s actions have not led to citizenship for anyone and issues surrounding unaccompanied minors from Central America seeking refuge persist. Furthermore, President Obama’s Executive Order on immigration could vanish as his presidency ends. Congress must unite to permanently address immigration and more urgently the upcoming budget.