Young undocumented immigrants: Two views

Moderated by Rick Badie

On June 15, President Barack Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would stop targeting young undocumented immigrants for deportation if they meet certain criteria. Today, a guest writer says the deferral is the proper thing to do for those who seek an education and pursue the American dream. On the opposite side, a U.S. congressman from Georgia decries the reprieve and calls it a re-election ploy that usurps the law and fails to fully address the immigration issue.

Let DREAM become reality

By Maria Duarte

One of our most cherished American values is that, with hard work and a college education, one can become whatever he or she desires.

Our teachers and parents preached this to us. As parents, we hope to ingrain this value in our children. As a nation, we strive to clear the path for our future doctors, astronauts and entrepreneurs.

Imagine a child who has everything in order to go on to college, but his or her aspirations come to a screeching halt when reality sets in that his or her options are limited.

Since the student was brought here without proper authorization from a foreign country, his or her opportunities to attend college and work legally in the U.S. are slim to none.

This student is undocumented and vulnerable for deportation.

On June 15, this sad reality was significantly altered for more than 1 million undocumented students. The Obama administration announced its new policy that exercised prosecutorial discretion to stop deportation of undocumented students who meet certain requirements.

The eligible students must have entered the U.S. before the age of 16, be younger than 30, have lived in the U.S. continuously for at least five years, have completed high school or obtained a GED or served in the military, and have no felony, significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanor offenses. Moreover, qualifying students would be able to apply for a work permit that is renewable every two years.

That day, undocumented students across the U.S. felt hope, disbelief, and, for once, a small sense relief. This new policy is a step in the right direction.

However, this program is temporary. Moreover, it is contingent upon the current president to uphold the policy. It is not a permanent solution.

One solution has remained stalled in Congress since 2001. The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act is the only legislative proposal that could provide permanent relief to undocumented students who meet certain criteria.

With little to no avail from Congress, President Barack Obama used his executive authority to provide temporary relief to deserving young adults. The Supreme Court has affirmed his ability to exercise prosecutorial discretion.

In Georgia, this announcement was greeted with cautious optimism by thousands of undocumented students and advocates.

For the past two years, state legislative proposals, such as HB 59 and SB 458, have sought to criminalize undocumented students for their desire to pursue higher education.

One of the arguments for these proposals was that undocumented students were not able to work legally in the U.S. anyway.

Now, with the Obama’s administration new policy, that argument is out.

Georgia could benefit greatly from this new policy. More students will be motivated to graduate from high school, obtain a GED or pursue college.

This could help boost Georgia’s abysmal graduation rate; a more educated workforce correlates with the potential for higher wages and increased tax revenue.

Instead of pushing for shortsighted state laws, Georgia legislators should push Congress for a permanent solution by passing the DREAM Act. Members from both sides of the aisle agree that undocumented students deserve relief. Some Republicans are moving toward the center on the DREAM Act; Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has suggested he will introduce a version of the bill.

This policy was a step in the right direction. However, until the DREAM Act passes, the future of millions undocumented young adults remains uncertain.

As we celebrate the values our nation was founded on, let’s uphold our value of hard work and higher education as a pathway toward the American dream for all deserving students.

Let’s pass the DREAM Act.

Maria Duarte is program coordinator for the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials.

Immigration edict delays fix

By Rob Woodall

To be clear, President Barack Obama’s decision wasn’t just about deportations. It was also a commitment to grant millions of new work permits.

This presidential edict comes at a time when one in two American college graduates is unemployed or underemployed, and when jobs are at a premium for every American.

Perhaps it was a great idea for a president who is trying to find enough votes to get re-elected in November, but it was a bad idea for a president who is tasked by the U.S. Constitution with enforcing the rule of law.

At its core, America is, and has always been, a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. These roles are in concert — not conflict — with one another.

At least they are until a president tries to create laws by decree rather than through the people’s representatives in Congress.

The troubling nature of the president’s announcement has as much to do with the constitutional separation of powers and the rule of law as it does with immigration policy.

The tragic consequence of President Obama’s overreach is that it delays America even further from finding a permanent solution to our immigration challenges, some of the most morally complex problems of our time.

Residents across the country have different ideas about how to confront illegal immigration.

I believe we must streamline our current immigration laws for temporary workers and permanent residents. We must eliminate those policies that act as magnets to illegal immigrants, policies that provide jobs, birthright citizenship and access to government-financed benefits.

Other folks believe we should offer illegal immigrants a full and immediate path to citizenship.

No matter what you believe, this much is certain: By ignoring the role of Congress and the people and by choosing instead to rule by edict, the president has abandoned any desire for — and perhaps destroyed any possibility of —a long-term, bipartisan solution.

He has done that in favor of a quick fix designed to earn him the support of a key voting bloc in November.

Much as he implemented this policy with a stroke of the pen, he — and any future president — can take it away with just a stroke of the pen.

In effect, he is holding these undocumented young people as political hostages and pinning their hopes for the future on his own re-election.

I represent the most diverse congressional district in all of Georgia. In this district, we celebrate America’s history and future, again, as both a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.

The president’s cavalier treatment of both is troubling. There is no question about whether we must work together to find a long-term immigration solution for America.

We must.

We must make it simpler for folks who are trying to come here the right way, and tougher on folks who insist on coming the wrong way. But our Founding Fathers intended for debates of this magnitude and decisions of this significance to take place in the halls of Congress, not in the backrooms of the White House. Americans deserve permanent solutions to serious problems, not simply election-year ploys.

Congressman Rob Woodall represents Georgia District 7.

33 comments Add your comment

Keith

July 19th, 2012
10:15 pm

What is Duarte’s point? The USA needs farmworkers, not more candidates for limited openings for doctors and astronauts.

K Conway

July 19th, 2012
9:47 pm

Obama will say anything, do anything, lie and whatever to get a vote! All illegals should be captured and returned to their native lands or imprisoned and made to work!!

Rick in Grayson

July 19th, 2012
8:00 pm

Costs to educate approximately 1 million illegal aliens that will not be deported (this does not include those that are “citizens” by being born here…let’s take that to a court decision and interpretation of the 14th amendment)!

1,000,000,000 students x $10,000 year [K-12]/student = 10,000,000,000,000. That is 10 billion dollars for each year of K-12 educations…all on the backs of local taxpayers. Educating anchor babies probably adds another $20 billion each year!

The costs of illegal immigration are HUGE! Yet, Obama wants to place that burden on the backs of US citizens and legal residents.

Vote for a candidate that wants to help America…not DESTROY America. Vote for a candidate that doesn’t break bread with local terrorists (Bill Ayers former leader of the Weather Underground) or attend the church of Reverend Wright (hateful speech and like Obama, wants to destroy America).

Rick in Grayson

July 19th, 2012
7:45 pm

Obama doesn’t know anything about the rule of law and places the interests of illegal aliens before those of US citizens and legal residents!

Obama does an end-around Congress and in doing so, shows his disrespect of the American political system.

Obama is a FAILURE! He should have been concentrating on creating the conditions for American companies to hire additional workers. What does he do…wastes time on a costly healthcare bill that was rammed down the throats of the Republicans in Congress and he expects bipartisanship? He adds to the regulations choking off US businesses and creates uncertainty for business owners so they don’t hire new workers. He runs up record debts/deficits when he said that he would cut the deficits in half during his first term in office. The President is a LIAR! Fewer people are employed than when he took office! His job creation efforts can’t even keep up with the population growth and legal immigration during his time in office! He wants to make a bad situation WORSE by granting work permits to illegal aliens and refuses to deport those identified by local law enforcement.

So much for transparency, Obama has the most partisan and least transparent administration in the last 100 years! He wants more tax returns from Romney yet he seals his college transcripts and passport records because he is the one that has something to hide from the American public.

Vote for a Presidential candidate that will put the interests of US CITIZENS before those of ILLEGAL ALIENS! Don’t vote for a candidate that that never managed any large organization, didn’t even finish half of his Senate term, and talks of his years smoking pot and doing a “little blow”!

Grob Hahn

July 19th, 2012
7:29 pm

So we should now call anyone driving without a license an “Undocumented Driver”. And we’ll have to open undocumented clinics staffed by undocumented doctors to deal with the likely rise in traffic accidents. This will pave the way for undocumented personal injury lawyers who aspire to become an undocumented president of the US some day!
Grobbbbbbbbbbbbb

BADA BING

July 19th, 2012
5:41 pm

If you chop down a tree in the woods, and no one is around, did you do that by yourself, or did the Gov’t help you?

middleground

July 19th, 2012
5:02 pm

Another non-profit group “Latino Elected Officals” that is destroying America.
Non-profits are getting a break on paying taxes so people like her can take your job.
Imagine if we had a “white elected officals group” whites only and whites only agenda.

SAWB

July 19th, 2012
4:21 pm

The Federal Government has failed us once again as it relates to immigration. We need reform that addresses three main issues: the folks who are here now, a reasonable process for people to enter and securing the borders. Mr. Obama has had 3.5 years to show some leadership and get something done, but he waits until a few months before the election to implement this procedure. At the end of the day this is just old fashioned political pandering and anyone what half a brain knows that.

wigglwagon

July 19th, 2012
4:19 pm

Anne Mitchell, good point. I suspect that if that group existed, they would have already made the front page and been labeled as flaming racists.

wigglwagon

July 19th, 2012
4:15 pm

john, using false ID is a criminal offense. It is, as you put it, “ignorant” to think that they are all just sitting around making a living by drawing welfare. Most of them are driving to work everyday. Oh, did I forget the part about illegal aliens not being allowed to work?