Opinion Piece: President Obama’s Immigration Plan by Chey Vargas
“We are and always will be a nation of immigrants.” –President Barack Obama
The United States of America is founded from immigrants. Just like our Founding Fathers, we all have ancestors and heritage that goes back to before America was even created or founded. So none of us can say that we are not immigrants or children of immigrants to this country.
Many immigrants today have come the United States of America for a better life, for their family, for work, to escape religious persecution and unrest in the respective countries, and most importantly, to be free and equal. That is what our ancestors came here for, the American Dream.
On Thursday, November 20, President Obama expressed in his speech that he wants to implement three actions as part of his immigration plan:
- Build on Progress at the Border
- Make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants to stay in the United States
- Enforce resources on felons and deportations, not families: Deportations are up 80% and the President believes it is best to prioritize who should leave and who should stay. Those who have committed felonies and major crimes, should be placed on higher priority to be deported than those who are here for their families and trying to make an honest living.
President Obama spoke at length about the new “Deferred Action for Parents” program that will allow undocumented parents of US citizens or Legal Permanent Residents to make amends in exchange for deferred action.
According to the President, it is not realistic to deport everyone. Working, attending religious venues, having a family, owning your own home, is all part of the American way of life. Per President Obama’s plan, there are some stipulations that undocumented immigrants must follow in order to be granted the right and privilege to temporary live in the United States:
- The undocumented immigrant must have US citizen or legal permanent resident children
- The undocumented immigrant must have been in the United States for at least 5 years or more
- The foreign national must be current in their payment of taxes, including back taxes
- This program does not grant citizenship or legal permanent residency
This plan will give the US citizen and legal permanent resident children of undocumented immigrants a better future and provides that felons and certain other classes of undocumented immigrants with criminal backgrounds will be deported above families.
President Obama stressed in his speech that, “This country needs a common and higher purpose.” Meaning that the United States should be a unified front and strive to create equality for all people who are trying to make an honest living no matter where they came from. He used Astrid Silva as an example. Astrid was brought to America at the age of 4. She learned English by reading newspapers and watching the educational shows on PBS. Her father worked in landscaping and her mother cleaned homes. Because she had an illegal status (being the child of undocumented foreign nationals), her parents did not want her to apply to college when she was older. Due to her status, when her grandmother died, she could not travel back to her home country for the funeral. She is now working on earning her third college degree as a result of her parents bringing her to the United States to make a better life.
President Obama spoke to the human spirit when he stated “We were strangers once, too.” If we all sit back and think about that statement, it is very true. Early Americans came to this country as complete and total strangers. The Native Americans were already here, and the immigrants who were coming to this country were confused, scared, and just wanted a better life in the land they heard so much about. Again, it was about freedom and equality, being able to live their life in a way so as they were not persecuted for their beliefs and opinions.