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THE MUSINGS OF A TRADITIONAL SOUTHERN DEMOCRAT

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Sid in his law office where he sits when meeting with clients. Observant eyes will notice the statuette of one of Sid's favorite Democrats.

Friday, September 05, 2014

Immigrants Benefit From White House Initiative - Advocates Urge Obama to Expand Eligibility, While Critics Say It Undermines Law

From The Wall Street Journal:

For two years, UC Berkeley-educated civil engineer Mario Lio had to work as a math tutor and restaurant worker to make ends meet. Today, he is a project engineer for a Bay Area firm that helped build the new Levi's Stadium for the San Francisco 49ers.

The reason, he says, is DACA—Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals—an Obama administration initiative that marked its second anniversary last month. When Mr. Lio, 25 years old, qualified for the program, he says, "So many doors opened overnight."

Through the program, he received a Social Security number and driver's license. He then got a job in his field of study. "I became a new person in some ways," says Mr. Lio, who arrived in the U.S. from Peru when he was 12 and remained here illegally.

DACA grants undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit if they can prove they arrived before age 16, have no criminal history and meet other criteria. Nearly 700,000 people have enrolled since the program began.

Opponents of DACA say it amounts to a de facto temporary legalization program that undermines the deterrent force of U.S. immigration law. Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, which calls for tougher laws to combat illegal immigration, describes the program as "green-card lite."

The program, which is renewable every two years for participants, is one of the most significant immigration actions taken by the Obama administration. The other has been overseeing the deportation of some two million immigrants, most of them here illegally.

As the first DACA enrollees have begun applying to renew their status, immigrant advocates are urging Mr. Obama to go "big and bold" and expand the program to include many of the 10 million or so undocumented immigrants who currently don't qualify for the program.

In particular, they want relief extended to the parents of DACA recipients, U.S. citizens and legal residents. Advocates are also urging the president to include individuals who didn't qualify for DACA because they were above the age limit or entered the country when they were over the age limit, according to program rules.

Felipe Sousa-Rodriguez, a Brazilian immigrant involved in lobbying for DACA, said Mr. Obama has the choice to cement his legacy as "deporter in chief" or to build on DACA.

"We are urging him to go big on relief, so that our families may be able to work, be protected from deportation and further contribute to the country we call our home," said Mr. Sousa-Rodriguez, deputy managing director of United We Dream, an advocacy network.

The president promised this summer to use his executive authority to improve the immigration system in light of Congress's failure to pass legislation. That is expected to include a ratcheting back of deportations, and possibly temporary work permits for many undocumented immigrants.

The White House had planned to announce action as early as next week. But administration officials have said that may be delayed amid concerns that such a move could harm Democrats running for the Senate in conservative states.

DACA foes say its extension to a wider group by the president would be an abuse of executive authority.

In a July letter to the president, 24 Republican state senators and representatives from Texas urged Mr. Obama to "suspend your efforts to issue new Executive Orders that weaken enforcement of our immigration laws" and said DACA "has sent the regrettable message that illegal immigration will not be punished in the United States."

In June, the DACA program began accepting applications from people seeking a renewal and from those now old enough to apply. Immigrant-advocacy and legal-aid groups have been assisting those tackling the DACA application, for which there is a $465 fee.

"The number of people coming in is steadily increasing," said Daniel Sharp, legal director for Carecen, a Los Angeles organization that has helped about 2,300 people participate in the program.

Oscar, an illegal immigrant who arrived in the U.S. as a teenager from Mexico, didn't qualify for DACA because he was older than 30 in June 2012, the cutoff age for the program.

He has a dual degree in urban studies and political science from the University of California, Berkeley, but does restaurant work and odd jobs to support himself.

"I am waiting for legislation or relief that will make it possible for me to give back to this country," said the student, who declined to reveal his last name because he remains undocumented.

1 Comments:

Blogger nancy john said...

I agree to a certain extent. People who come to work can contribute and improve society in a number of ways. They can provide a needed skill, produce a product that others need or desire

Canada Immigration Basics

2:52 AM  

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