Monday, December 1, 2014

Presidential action on immigration

On November 20th, in President Barack Obama's televised address to the nation, the President broadcasted his plan to reform U.S. immigration policy.

In his address, the President announced that he intends to take Presidential Action on immigration. President Obama noted this action was a direct ramification of the stalemate position that the House of Representatives had adopted on immigration reform. According to the White House, the President’s “Immigration Accountability Executive Actions” will help secure the border, hold “nearly 5 million undocumented immigrants accountable, and ensure that everyone plays by the same rules . . . These executive actions crack down on illegal immigration at the border, prioritize deporting felons not families, and require certain undocumented immigrants to pass a criminal background check and pay their fair share of taxes as they register to temporarily stay in the U.S. without fear of deportation.”

The Presidential Actions taken November 20th are not amnesty, as some would claim. These Presidential Actions are a reform. What President Obama is doing, is using his executive power to restructure immigration enforcement policy and prioritize deportations.

Those who benefit from the President’s executive action are: parents of U.S. citizens or Legal Permanent Residents; undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. before the age of 16; and spouses and children of Legal Permanent Residents. It is worth noting that for most of these, the beneficiary must be able to pass a background check in order to apply for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA) and a work permit. The reform is an attempt on the administration to check the ongoing deportation of undocumented immigrants and stop the separation of families, such that, the undocumented parents of U.S.-born citizens get a temporary "deferred" status and thus can't be removed for three years. The actions are anticipated be in effect by May 20, 2015.Recent polling by the American Communities Project suggests that people living in urban areas are supportive of the president’s move, and that those in the exurbs and rural America are strongly opposed to the President’s actions.

However, rural America should actually favor the reform, if only for economic reasons, as it has been suggested that without a stable workforce America’s rural agricultural producers will crumble in the coming years. Further, reform will bring labor exploitation that provides an unfair advantage to those who refuse to observe the law to an end. 

In his speech, the President acknowledged that our immigration system is broken and the impact that it has on the economy and the American people. He said: 
Families who enter our country the right way and play by the rules watch others flout the rules. Business owners who offer their workers good wages and benefits see the competition exploit undocumented immigrants by paying them far less. All of us take offense to anyone who reaps the rewards of living in America without taking on the responsibilities of living in America.
Fixing this system benefits everyone. Ideally, Obama will continue to try to work with Congress to pass a bipartisan bill that everyone in Washington will support. This would have more widespread, permanent effects.

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