Immigration Reform Through an Immigrant’s Perspective: Part 1 of 3

This is a three-part series on immigration reform commencing today and ending on Wednesday.

ins-reform-nov14Now that the initial celebrations and indignations are about to subside in regards to the president’s executive order on immigration it is time to pierce through the fog of political pontifications. It is important to point out that the president’s order does not fix the broken immigration problem and instead once again puts the onus on Congress, one that is soon to be dominated by Republicans.

As expected, the fear-mongering and threats have been dominating the news cycles. What the president ordered is basically to direct a federal agency to focus on other priorities rather than separating families through deportations. The action resolves an immediate problem by limiting Congress’ ability to stymie the president’s unilateral action because it takes away the budget hammer Congress could wield on the executive branch and forcing a continued discussion about the problem. It is important to note that the department in charge of enforcing immigration policy is largely supported by the fees paid into it by the immigrants benefiting from its services so Congress has little to no control through the budget to impede the president’s action.

The President Did Not Go Far Enough

As laudable as the president’s immigration executive action is the fact remains that it didn’t go far enough. I applaud his willingness to take action, as little as it was, but recognize that it is part of the political shenanigans played by Washington politicians. Let us start with the fact that president’s actions were nothing more than a temporary reprieve from deportation through administrative-level processes.

As much relief as this measure brings, and I know it is welcomed by many, although temporary many will enjoy a respite from the fear of the door knock or the public encounter with government officials it nonetheless does not solve the chronic broken immigration system.

There is no guarantee that Congress will act on a permanent solution and in many ways the current situation has given Congress an opportunity to pontificate and further delay any meaningful solution to the problem. Keep in mind that there is no pathway to legalized residence in the country for the immigrants that benefit from the president’s actions.

The other thing to keep in mind is that the president’s order only benefits less than 50% of the undocumented immigrants in the US. Half of the estimated undocumented receive no benefit from the president’s executive order and still live in fear. It is also important to remember that President Obama has deported more immigrants than his predecessors. Those deported immigrants have been excluded from the benefits issued by the president last week.

Finally, and in my mind the most important issue is the fact that many families that are currently separated because of the immigration debacle will not suddenly be able to see each other. Although the president’s action gives a temporary reprieve it does not extend the benefit of leaving the US to go visit family members in other countries. The president’s order did not include a provision for those it purports to serve the right to leave and return to the country.

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