President Obama’s recently-announced immigration reform offers more paths toward citizenship for individuals wishing to immigrate to the U.S. Mr. Obama has acknowledged that action needs to be taken to deal with the 11 million immigrants who are residing in the U.S. illegally. Mr. Obama explained that deportation was not a practical or economical solution.
Obama’s immigration plan does not provide immediate wholesale amnesty. According to the White House, illegal immigrants will have to pass background checks and national security checks. They will be required to pay fees and penalties as well as pay taxes on their income. Individuals will then be granted a form of “provisional” legal status. Individuals with this status will not be eligible for welfare or federal benefits, tax credits, or subsidies, but will have a path opened to them for legal residency and citizenship. These individuals will have to wait until the current green card backlog is cleared before they can apply for a green card for lawful permanent residency. However, as soon as they have a green card, these individuals will be considered legal residents with all the rights and privileges of legal residency.
The president’s new plan will create strict requirements for individuals to qualify for permanent residency. These requirements will require stringent background checks, and require candidates to learn English and U.S. civics.
Most importantly, children who were brought to the U.S. illegally will qualify for earned citizenship.
NBC’s Local 10 News spoke to Miami and south Florida families affected by the president’s executive action. Some south Florida residents expressed some disappointment explaining that President Obama’s immigration reform was not comprehensive enough for them. Even so, NBC reports that President Obama’s executive action shields 5 million immigrants from immediate deportation.
South Florida resident, Diego Sanchez learned that he was an undocumented immigrant while he was in high school. Diego Sanchez is one of the “Dreamers,” children of undocumented individuals who moved to the U.S. and brought their undocumented children with them. Sanchez would like to see Mr. Obama provide protection for his parents and other individuals in his parents’ situation.
Even so, the executive action provides a path for citizenship for many.
Yet, immigrants who seek amnesty should not act just yet.
Local Miami immigration lawyers report that their phones are ringing following Obama’s reform. These lawyers remind the public that Obama’s initiatives have not yet been implemented. As of yet, individuals should not submit applications until the law has been put in place and the agencies are ready to accept applications.
The Center for American Progress explains that immigration reform stands to improve workers’ wages and job opportunities. Immigrants and native workers tend to have different skill sets and tend to compete for different kinds of jobs. The increased supply of labor may actually expand the labor market, leading to greater overall demand. Immigration also encourages companies to keep their manufacturing jobs on U.S. soil. This benefits the U.S. citizens who work for these companies and who could lose work if the company moved overseas. Research has also shown that many immigrants create their own jobs by starting their own businesses. These immigrants also create jobs for native workers.
Despite this, many individuals are not pleased with the reform. Senator Marco Rubio (Republican) told The Miami Herald that Mr. Obama’s executive order will make it more difficult for people who are trying to immigrate to America legally. Mario Diaz-Balart (Republican) and Ileana Ross-Lehtinen (Republican) both felt that more bi-partisan solution would be effective.
The American Conservative Union called President Obama’s order “like a royal decree.”
Even so, the order creates provisions for tougher border security and for harsher penalties on companies that hire illegal or undocumented workers. Overall, the provisions offer a solution to the undocumented worker problems, a solution that affords these individuals a path to legal citizenship.