Frequently Used Terms in the Immigration Debate

Here are few of the commonly used major terms in the immigration debate.


Amnesty is a pardon extended by the government to a certain group of people who have violated the country’s immigration policies. Immigrant advocates view amnesty as a plan that allows undocumented immigrants to stay back in the U.S. and eventually obtain U.S. citizenship. This plan may or may not require those immigrants to pay fines or taxes to get into a path to citizenship.

Comprehensive immigration reform

Comprehensive immigration reform is something that will fix the broken immigration system with just one big bill. This bill would include plans to strengthen border security, legalize undocumented immigrants, foreign worker programs and many more needed to revamp the country’s legal immigration system. Many bills have been introduced in the U.S. Congress so far but none of those have been signed into law.


DACA is how Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program is commonly known. This DACA program that shields undocumented youth from deportation for two years was implemented by President Barack Obama in 2012. This program benefits undocumented youth between ages 15 and 30 who are students or high school graduates. These youth should prove that they were brought to the U.S. when they were minors. This program also lets these youth obtain work permits.


DAPA, acronym for Deferred Action for Parental Accountability was introduced by President Obama in 2014. This program has not yet been implemented. If implemented, this program will offer temporary legal status to the undocumented parents of U.S. citizens and Green Card holders. This program was put on hold after Texas and many other states filed a lawsuit claiming that the President’s actions are unconstitutional. Now the Obama administration is waiting for the Supreme Court to rule favourably.


E-Verify is the government’s system that allows U.S. employers to verify that those they are hiring are eligible to work in the U.S and that they are not undocumented.

Guest-worker program 

Guest workers are those who come to the U.S. to work here for a short time period to fill labor shortages. These workers are required to return home once their job is over. Industries like agriculture and tourism need such guest workers to fill seasonal positions. These industries have also hired seasonal workers in the past.

Sanctuary city

A sanctuary city is a U.S. city or town that offers assistance and protection to undocumented immigrants living there. These sanctuary cities also prohibit local police from holding undocumented immigrants facing deportation until Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents pick them up to begin deportation proceedings.

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