The Obama administration will be remembered as the government of unmet expectations. After the great hope that he inspired, the level of disapproval for Obama has set a record low. Despite developments and America’s entry into a new era of economic growth, U.S. citizens severely punished the Democratic Party, yielding Congress to the Republicans.
One of the reasons for the Democrats´ defeat was the fact that many of the party’s major supporters, including much of the Latino population, did not vote. The greatest wave of immigration raids and deportations in history has occurred during President Obama’s administration. Contrary to the values that the Democratic Party professes, its administration implemented a very aggressive immigration policy, which has generated frightening social problems. As a result of mass deportations, thousands of families have been ripped apart, leaving the border between them. Homeless children and worried parents live a nightmare day after day, and yet Washington is indifferent to them, as it remains more interested in other matters.
This major electoral defeat was a wake-up call for President Obama to realize that the next presidential election will turn out the same way unless he reaches out to immigrants. Accordingly, on Nov. 20, Obama issued an executive order which serves to alleviate some of the immigrants´ situation. The plan provides a way for immigrants to avoid deportation and receive a work permit for two years if they can prove they have been in America for five years, that they have children who are citizens or legal residents of the country, and that they have no criminal record. This executive action will temporarily benefit some five million undocumented aliens, but leaves nearly seven million others totally unprotected, people who will have to continue living in the shadows.
Some of Obama’s other actions include facilitating work visas for young people who are studying a technology-related field in an American university, and policies designed to facilitate family reunification. The new plan also looks at strengthening border security, which may translate into more abusive actions from the border patrol. In response, the Mexican government needs to develop a clearer and more active position and not remain silent.
President Obama said, “This deal does not apply to anyone who has come to this country recently. It does not apply to anyone who might come to America illegally in the future. It does not grant citizenship, or the right to stay here permanently, or offer the same benefits that citizens receive.”
The executive action by President Obama represents an advance in immigration policy. However, immigrants, despite their great contributions to the development of the country, are still seen as a second-rate social group and, in some cases, as a threat to the future. It seems that many U.S. politicians and leaders have forgotten that America was forged as a great melting pot thanks to immigrants who pooled all their efforts together in order to turn the land into a nation of opportunity.
Every country has the right to develop its own immigration policy, but it must be based on impartial law that does not violate the fundamental rights of the individual. President Obama´s announcement arrived too late for the Democrats and too late for all the families who have been affected, but it is at least a step on the road to recognizing the rights of millions of people.