President Changes Immigration Policy


President Barack Obama, at the Department of Homeland Security, speaking about the recent announcement regarding illegal immigrants.

Maya Sherne, Beats Editor

There has recently been an issue heating up politics throughout the United States.  This issue isn’t new, nor is it brought on by environmental issues or war.  In fact, this controversy is over an issue that has been part of American society since the 1700s.  Since the beginning of this country, citizens have disputed over immigration, and it has taken the government 300 years to find a solution.

On June 15, the Obama administration announced a new immigration policy that changes the United States’ former deportation and immigration practices.

In many ways, the President’s plan was a political tactic for campaign votes, but regardless of selfish intentions, this policy has the potential of helping nearly 800,000 illegal immigrant minors; and all that good most definitely outweighs the “bad” of Obama’s political campaigning strategy.

Under this policy, illegal immigrants under 30, who arrived in the United States before the age of 16, and have been living in the country for at least five years are applicable for a “deferred action.” This temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation, while never granting citizenship to the minor.

Along with the other requirements, the minor must be serving in, or honorably discharged from the military or have a GED or high school diploma, and can not have a criminal record.  The minor is then granted the opportunity to receive a work permit.

In 2001, federal legislation was introduced with intentions to legalize the status of millions of undocumented children in the United States.  The DREAM Act, or the Development Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act, was opposed by Congress and has been re-introduced every session since.

The DREAM Act’s objective is to help illegal immigrant youth who have lived the majority of their lives in the United States qualify for a six-year provisional citizenship, under conditions that they complete two years in the military or work towards a college degree.

The debate over illegal immigration has evolved into a never-ending ethnically prejudiced conflict.  Concerns regarding illegal immigration have morphed into negative feelings towards immigrants as a whole, despite the fact that the majority are law-abiding citizens who contribute positively to the United States’ society and economy.

Republican’s critisize Obama’s policy as an amnesty move, and a presidential override of congressional authority.

Opponents worry that illegal immigration leads to increased crime, loss of American jobs, and diverted public funding.  These fears would be legitimate, if they were true.  However, most of these concerns are prevalent in American culture regardless of immigration.

Ruben Rumbaut, a sociologist at the University of California, Irvine did extensive research on the crime trends of illegal immigrants.

“Studies that I have done based on census data, studies along the border, government commissions from 1994 to present, repeatedly have found the same thing,” Rumbaut said.  “Immigrants are associated with much lower rates of crime and incarceration. And some of the safest cities are those with large immigrant populations.”

The United States is a country built on the labor of immigrants, and continues to thrive on such labor.  If a person wants to uproot their life and move in hopes of making a better life for themselves and their families, who are we to oppose them?  Our families once did the same thing.

Regardless of motivation, the United States has always been the land of opportunity, and a place of refuge; let us not be the generation to stop this cycle of dreams.