by JASMINE ELSHAMY Editor-in-Chief
President Barack Obama delivered a speech on November 20 about his new executive orders for immigration that will protect millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported. The speech curiously only aired on a handful of cable news networks (Fox News, MSNBC, CNN), Univision, and Telemundo.
The speech comes in the wake of a recent spike in immigrant youths crossing the border without parents or guardians over the summer, one that caused discussions on immigration to become even more tense. However, Obama explains that now the number of people trying to cross our border is the lowest it has been since the 1970s.
Obama explained that last year there was a bipartisan bill being worked on in the Senate that would have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents while giving undocumented immigrants a pathway to citizenship if they paid a fine, started paying their taxes, and went to the back of the line. Supposedly, it would help grow the economy and shrink our deficits.
However, the House of Representatives did not even allow the bill a vote, which is why Obama decided to take things into his own hands.
“I think it’s stupid and counterproductive to be pushing against and avoiding things like immigration reform! Everyone is always yelling on social media and in their real lives about Obama not doing anything, but it’s not like the decision is solely in his hands the way everyone seems to so conveniently forget,” says senior Bree McKenna.
Here is what Obama’s game plan looks like from what he described:
Add more security and legal personnel to stem the flow of illegal crossings.
Make it easier for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy.
“Take steps to deal responsibly with the millions of undocumented immigrants who already had live in our country.”
Excuse me, Jasmine, but what does number three mean? Well, young padawan (that’s a Star Wars term, right?), I will tell you.
Obama knows that the particular subtopic among all this of deporting families or deporting parents of legal children is very touchy, one with a lot of passion and emotion packed into it. He clarifies that we wants to put the focus on the felons who come here illegally, the ones who break the rules and prove to be dangerous to the community.
He acknowledges how unrealistic it would be to round up 11.3 million people and have them all deported and, not to mention, how inherently un-American that would be. Last year, the Obama administration deported about 438,000 undocumented immigrants. At that rate, it would take 26 years to deport all of the current undocumented immigrants in the country.
So here is Obama’s deal: he wants everybody to play by the rules. If you have been in America for more than five years, if you have children who are American citizens or illegal residents, if you pass a criminal background check and you are willing to pay your fair share of taxes, you will be able to apply to stay in this country temporarily without fear of deportation.
This protects about 4 million people from deportation.
However, this does not apply to people who have entered the country recently, and does not guarantee citizenship, rights to stay here, or benefits. It simply means that these people are not getting deported and now have a chance to get right with the law.
As someone with immigrant parents who both came here legally and have had to work very hard to find suitable jobs for their skills in their respective fields, I can honestly say that living here in America has allowed for them to create a great life for our family.
I hope the executive action our president is taking proves to be fruitful and worthwhile. For many families who are living here in the shadows, living in America represents the possibility of a different type of future for their children, if not themselves. Many of these families are not just lazing around, reaping the benefits of this country without putting any work into it. These immigrants work really hard at very low-paying jobs because they do not have the papers to get themselves anything better.
Watch Obama’s speech or read the transcript here.
What do you think of the proposed immigration act?