A Small Step: Obama’s Migration Measures

It is just one step, but is said to benefit four or five million immigrants. It is executive action taken by Barack Obama on his presidential prerogative, forced by the insistent Republican refusal to pass a reform that has slept in the Capitol’s drawers in Washington.

The measures avoid deportation for this segment of the population, which is especially important for the U.S. economy and social development of the country. The announcement lasting 14 minutes and 57 seconds, made in a message Thursday night, in which a hint of a smile showed on the president’s mature countenance, received much attention at home and in public.

For the first time the people gathered outside the White House did not make demands, but rather hoisted “Thank You” signs. For the first time, it is said, the millions of beneficiaries could sleep peacefully, without fear of assault by immigration forces on their homes or (illegal) workplaces, confinement in prisons of infamous notoriety and subsequent extradition from the “country of dreams.”

The White House insists that the final solution for a total of more than 12 million undocumented immigrants lies with Congress. It is right; what was announced is just a relief plan, and requires legislative heft to make it permanent. It’s just a breather of three years’ work permit for millions of undocumented immigrants.

For others, as noted by The New York Times, the presidential authority prevailed and opted “for confrontation over conciliation,” with the opposition, who will be in overall majority in both chambers when the new term starts in January 2015.

Some called it executive excess, and USA Today reflected it in this statement: “If Democrats want to have their way on immigration issues, they should win more congressional elections. And if Republicans want to be more competitive in presidential elections, they should muffle the shrill anti-immigrant voices in their party, ignore talk of a government shutdown, and pass the Senate bill.”

While men and women without papers, and their children or parents, celebrate the measure, as it allows them to work without worries and pay federal, state and local taxes as part of a productive community, others bare their teeth.

Thus, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Republican John Boehner, threatened more than he warned: “With this decision the president has chosen deliberately to sabotage any opportunity to enact bipartisan reforms he says look, and as he was told yesterday (Thursday), it is also damaging the same presidency.” These measures, he added, “will only encourage more people to come here illegally and put their lives at risk.”

That is why some analysts say Obama had started another war.

Against this there are also supporting arguments: Immigrants generate a growth of gross domestic product of between $90-210 billion, according to a study by the presidential Council of Economic Advisors, and the workforce will expand over the next decade by some 150,000 people, without impacting the probability of U.S. citizens finding employment.

With the current decision Obama reminded all U.S. citizens, “Immigration defines us as a country.”* He also highlighted other intentions saying, “First, we’ll build on our progress at the border with additional resources.”

“Second, I’ll make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates, and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy …”

The call Thursday night is for those who have lived in the U.S. for more than five years, have children who are citizens or legal residents, to register and pass background checks and show willingness to pay corresponding taxes. Only then can they stay temporarily in the country and “out of the shadows” — shadows that, if these measures do not become law by immigration reform, which must be approved by the legislature, may block their path yet again.

*Editor’s Note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.

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About Robert Sullivan 112 Articles
Ex-Foreign correspondent who lived and worked in Argentina and Brazil, among other (non-Latin) countries.

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