GMA News Online
Pinoy Abroad
»
World Features

Why Obama's immigration policy 'hits home' for many Pinoys

September 21, 2012 10:40am
In his acceptance speech at the recently concluded Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, President Barack Obama had the opportunity to enumerate his numerous accomplishments during his stewardship.
 
From my perspective, the implementation of his version of the Dream Act is the most significant taking into account my personal experience as as an immigrant who is now assimilated into mainstream America.
 
When Congress repeatedly failed to approve a bill entitled the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act, more popularly known as the Dream Act, Obama issued an Executive Order on June 15, 2012 directing the Department of Homeland Security, through its Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, to stop the deportation or removal of more than 800,00 undocumented or illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and in many cases as babies or toddlers unaware of the countries where they came from.
 
Obama acted with courage and compassion in signing the Executive Order unmindful of the criticisms and risks involved.
 
Obama stated during the signing ceremony at the White House, “Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.”
 
First Lady Michelle Obama added her voice to the transformation process regarding the status of the immigrants at the Democratic National Convention, “When you’ve worked hard and done well and walked through that doorway of opportunity, you do not slam it shut behind you.”
 
The presidential fiat validates the immigration status of a particular class of illegal or undocumented aliens that will enable them to receive benefits, such as among others the right to apply for a driver’s license and/or a work permit.
 
Applicants for a new status under Obama’s Executive Order must have the following qualifications:
 
• be at least 16 years old and no less than 30 to be eligible for the deferred action policy;
 
• brought to the United States before they turned 16;
 
• resided in the United States for at least 5 continuous years before their application;
 
• currently attend school, or to have graduated from high school or gotten a G.E.D., or have been honorably discharged from the military.
 
The holder of the new status must apply for a renewal after two years.
 
This means that the Executive Order relating to the new status of young illegal immigrants is temporary and calls for a more permanent solution.
 
A call to Congress should be made to put back in its agenda when it convenes at its next regular session and pass the Dream Act as the appropriate legislation for the deserving illegal or undocumented immigrants.
 
Immigration is a hot button issue that will be keenly debated in the forthcoming political exercises with the Democrats advocating for inclusion and the Republicans for exclusion.
 
There is a fundamental difference in the way the political parties address immigration reform and sadly, it has polarized the electorate by expressing their respective views with hatred and vitriol.
 
The Republicans, in particular the elements of the Tea Party, have every reason to oppose the use of the resources of taxpayers to defray the expenses in accommodating  illegal immigrants on the social programs of the government, such as health care and education.
 
In an atmosphere of stubbornly high unemployment rate, the conservatives have a well-grounded fear that illegal immigrants are being exploited by unscrupulous employers at the expense of the millions of Americans who are desperately looking for work.
 
On the other hand, the Democrats are confident that history is on their side attributing the singular success of America to the contributions of immigrants.
 
Immigrants are driven by the lure of having a better quality of life in this country and will assume all the risks, as well as face all the challenges concomitant to the achievement of their dreams.
 
Most, if not all, try to live within the framework of the law because of their morbid fear of deportation.
 
Both sides should be engaged in a dialogue or debate characterized with respect and restraint to come up with solutions on the knotty problem.
 
The policy makers must explore all avenues to arrive at a mutually acceptable outcome.
 
In this regard, compromises will be inevitable and therefore should try as much as possible to shun a take no prisoners attitude.
 
Ultimately, it is the life and aspirations of human beings in a civil society that are at stake. - Filipino Reporter