President Obamas has signed an executive order which allows more than 800 000 young undocumented immigrants to remain in the US without the risk of deportation. While the president has not been able to get the DREAM Act passed to give the children of undocumented immigrants a path to citizenship, the executive order will offer some protection against deportation, even if it does not provide a path to more permanent status yet.
However, the executive order will have a very real impact on the children of undocumented immigrants. In many cases, these children are brought into the country while young and attend school in the US and are raised in the US. Despite this, they face deportation and have no legal immigration status. With the current change, these individuals will at least not have to worry about deportation.
Since taking office, President Obama has deported a record number of 1.1 million undocumented immigrants – more than any president since the 1950s. In addition, although the president promised to get the DREAM Act passed, political opposition in Congress did not allow that to happen.
The executive order asks the Department of Homeland Security to no longer deport anyone who illegally came to this country before the age of 16. Those who are currently under 30 years of age and have no criminal record are eligible for the reprieve. As well, to avoid deportation the immigrants must have served in the military or must be in college or high school. President Obama has agreed that this is not a permanent solution and does not provide a real solution the way that the DREAM Act would have. However, it will make some people breathe easier and offer some hope.
The executive order is valid for two years and will need to be renewed by the next president. The order does allow students to apply for financial aid, live and work in the US, and study in the US. It also allows students who qualify under the executive order to apply for a driver’s license.
Opponents of President Obamas have called the move an attempt to attract voters. Others stated that the move favors non-US citizens and workers over citizen workers. One reporter effectively heckled the President over the executive order, causing President Obama to reprimand him.
Many people are applauding the move, noting that undocumented immigration may not be the drain on the economy it is portrayed as. Some point out that there will be a shortage of college-educated employees by the year 2025, and some sectors – such as the IT sector – are already facing a serious shortage of skilled workers. Some experts point out that with 32% of science and engineering graduates coming from Hispanic backgrounds, getting more Hispanic workers into the workforce – whether they are born here or not – can be good for the economy. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the DREAM Act could help slash the federal deficit by $2.2 billion over a decade.