Even if you don’t support President Obama, there are three good reasons to support his decision to end the deportation of some illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children. And according to a recent Bloomberg poll, likely voters support President Obama in this more than two to one. According to the poll, 64% of likely voters agreed with the policy while only 30% disagreed. Here’s why you should agree too:
First, support of this policy will serve as the political catalyst needed to force passage of the DREAM Act, which will provide benefits to undocumented immigrants and Americans alike. President Obama’s announcement last week was simply a memo outlining a temporary relaxation in prosecutorial discretion. It was not an Executive Order and it was not the passage of law.
This temporary solution means that approximately 800,000 unauthorized immigrants could gain temporary work permits, but only a fraction of the economic benefits that could be had under the proposed DREAM Act will be reaped by the policy change. If the maximum amount of undocumented immigrants are legalized under the DREAM Act, the U.S. economy could stand to gain an estimated $200 billion in added production over the next decade.
Second, this new policy will serve as a pilot program for future legalization and open the doors for further immigration reform. Our current immigration policies are complicated and restrictive. Most immigrants who want to come to the United States are unable to due to immigration regulations. And if they can’t get in legally, many are going to try to get in illegally.
Immigrants are integral to our nation. We are a nation born of immigrants and we are a nation that grows by immigrants. Take these stats by the Immigrant Policy Center:
- Immigrants increase the nation’s economic output. A 2007 report from the White House Council of Economic Advisers concluded that immigration as a whole increase the U.S. GDP by about $37 billion each year.
- Immigrants do not compete with the majority of natives for the same job because they tend to have different levels of education and work in different occupations. In fact, according to a 2010 report from the Economic Policy Institute, immigration increased the number of wages of native-born workers by 0.4%
- According to the Pew Hispanic Center, households headed by unauthorized immigrants paid $11.2 billion in state and local taxes in 2010.
With the U.S. economy struggling as it is, Americans could use a shot in the arm from productive immigrants who are only looking to invest in the country. The U.S. needs to provide more visas and fewer restrictions to those looking to further production in the United States. President Obama’s policy change and a possible Executive Order should be the first step to tougher Border Patrol and less restrictive immigration policies.
Lastly, supporting President Obama’s policy change is just the right thing to do. No other law on the books punishes children for the crimes of their parents. They were brought to the United States by their parents; it was not their decision. Most of those eligible for deferment are very much a part of American society and do not even remember their home country. Obama's new directive has been issued under the auspices of the Department of Homeland Security, and seeks to suspend deportation of illegal immigrants under the age of 30 who came to the U.S. before age 16, and who have lived in the country for at least five years. They are eligible if they have no criminal records, are in school, are high school graduates or are military veterans.
These young immigrants have no criminal records; they are educated or have served this country in our wars. They are productive members of society who are American in culture, language and spirit. The only things they are missing are a certificate printed on embossed paper and a nine digit number. How could you criminalize anyone for that?