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

GB

July 19th, 2012
7:19 am

Some interesting verbiage.

“… without proper authorization…” = without any authorization at all, i.e., illegally

“With little to no avail from Congress…” She should look up the word “avail” in the dictionary before using it again, but it is clear what she means. Our Constitutional law professor/president actually used the fact that Congress DID NOT ACT to pass enact certain measures as justification for his action to implement them anyway. Our president has no regard whatsoever for the rule of law.

“The Supreme Court has affirmed his ability to exercise prosecutorial discretion.” Whatever she is talking about here has no connection to the matter at hand. The president’s illegal actions regarding illegal aliens has not been before the Supreme Court or any other court.

“Georgia could benefit greatly from this new policy.” This takes a lot of nerve. She is telling us that when people break our laws it is good for us.

“Georgia legislators should push Congress for a permanent solution by passing the DREAM Act.” They won’t because they disagree with her in the most profound way, or at least a large majority do. But what difference does it make? If Obama can do what he wants to do, regardless of the law, anything Congress does is meaningless. If he can disregard the law for people who are here (”through no fault of their own,” as we hear over and over again), why can’t he disregard the law in other ways? Can’t he just let their parents stay too? After all, isn’t family unification one of our “most cherished American values”? And of what importance is the law in comparison to this?

Mountain Man

July 19th, 2012
7:23 am

What needs to happen is for our two feuding parties in Congress to sit down and hammer out a COMPROMISE (I. know, fat chance) and pass some meaningful Immigration Reform. Have a better process for immigrants to become citizens. Have a better process for immigrants who wish to work at jobs that we can’t fill with Americans. And make E-verify mandatory for every business in the US and strengthen it. Have the IRS actively investigate all instances where two jobs on opposite sides of the country report a single SSN working full time.

Mountain Man

July 19th, 2012
7:26 am

The Atlanta Police Department ( and the Georgia State Patrol) apparently practice “prosecutorial discretion” concerning speeders on the Interstates inside the perimeter. WHAT PART OF ILLEGAL DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND!!! 55 MPH means 55!

dc

July 19th, 2012
8:14 am

Illegal immigrants take jobs from……….ding ding…. the poor. Sadly, so many people are sold out to the democratic party plantation, that they can’t see how this policy is killing their chances for meaningful employment for those Americans with limited to no skills.

As long as business owners can pay low wages, and no benefits, the least employable Americans will suffer. That’s not a political statement, just reality. Sadly, it seems many Americans, who are the very ones most negatively impacted by illegal immigrants taking jobs, are too blinded (or other?) to see this.

nelson

July 19th, 2012
8:19 am

The DA[dream act] will only affect 65,000 illegal immigrants[elgibility] out of 11,000,000 illegal immigrants. I would say that is a small number however if the DA were to pass that number would grow exponentially to an unmanageable number. One of the qualifications is “good moral character’ but does not define what good moral character is. Once the applicant is accepted they have 6 years to complete their education and during that time have all the rights of a legal citizen.
Personally, I do not see it working. It is another burden that our infrastuture will have to cope with, when it is already at full capacity.

Georgian

July 19th, 2012
8:47 am

Congressman Woodall, instead of complaining on what President Obama has done with clear executive authority, and reaffirmed by the recent US Supreme Court ruling, who don’t YOU get off your BUTT and produce immigration reform that provides a path to citizenship to all those who are here. Immigration reform would generate an estimated $10B in economic activity without spending a single taxpayer dollar. YOU are the obstacle for this to move forward. Instead of complaining, why don’t you do YOUR job and deliver a solution for the American public. Shame on you for your whining….get to WORK and give us a solution!

Not Blind

July 19th, 2012
8:57 am

We do NOT need immigration reform. We DO need enforcement of our existing laws. We also IMMEDIATELY need to quit applying the 14th Amendment to babies born to illegal aliens. If you study the amendment and the writings of the framers you will see that it is being misapplied in these cases.

Taxpayer

July 19th, 2012
9:28 am

US immigration law doesn’t need to be reformed. It just needs to be enforced.

Aquagirl

July 19th, 2012
9:29 am

If you study the amendment and the writings of the framers you will see that it is being misapplied in these cases.

Forget all those lawyers and prior court cases, nothing trumps your University of Google degree.

Chris Sanchez

July 19th, 2012
9:29 am

On June 15, President Barack Obama announced that his administration would very selectively enforce the law in a manner that benefits him at a time when his poll numbers have given his re-election campaign cause for concern. Whether or not anyone likes it, the people in question are in the United States in violation of American law. Any idea what the penalty for a similar violation is in Mexico? Under the General Law on Population passed in 2000, being in Mexico illegally is a felony punishable with up to two years in prison. Then the offender is deported.

Pat

July 19th, 2012
9:50 am

This just another case of King Obama changing the law of the land without consent of congress because he believes that he is the law and can do what ever the hell he wants to. But be absolutely certain of this these are NOT undocumented immigrants, they are ILLEGAL immigrants.

fed up

July 19th, 2012
9:58 am

Why do we keep forgetting about all of the Legal immigrants/refugees that come here? Our Federal, State and local taxpayers fund this. Why is our Miitary in a war overseas when the country is coming here? Could we please leave everyone at home until we get his immigration fixed? I know that people are coming here because of the conditions in their country, but why won’t the elected officials let it be known that we have had enough. They take a lot of funds that could be going to people that have earned it or atleast paid into it! I would like to see an article written on how much this State received from the Feds and where it goes, I know a large amount for medicaid. Then, break it down to the counties for education, apartments, medical testing/supplies, food, marta cards to get to work, cell phones and pocket change. I was escorted from a town hall meeting by one of Henry Hank Johnsons Aides for asking these very questions. Come on, I have paid enough! Who helps me?

Olderandwiser49

July 19th, 2012
9:58 am

This is but one more circumvention of Congress and the law by Obama, and it will ultimately cost far more than this Administration implies. It must be remembered that Hispanics are reproducing at a far greater rate than any other ethnicity in this country, and the people to which Obama’s whim applies are at the optimum child-bearing age. Under our current poorly-worded “Anchor Baby” law, any child born to these people immediately becomes an American citizen, and they can legally tap the already overburdened welfare programs. If this Obama “two-step” is not repealed once he is out of office, a bill fully defining the Anchor Baby to exclude children born to illegal aliens, including those here on temporary visas, must be passed to avoid what could be millions of new welfare recipients being added to the rolls. The short-term effects of Obama’s actions are usually astonishing in their audacity. The long-term effects, however, are almost always tremendously costly, both to our pocketbooks and wallets, and to our rule of law!

zeke

July 19th, 2012
10:24 am

There is not two views! THEY ARE ILLEGALS HOWEVER THEY CAME TO BE HERE DOES NOT MATTER! THEY ARE ILLEGALS AND BY DEFINITION THEY ARE FELONS AND SHOULD BE TREATED AS SUCH! ARREST! DEPORT! ARREST! DEPORT!!

sam

July 19th, 2012
11:08 am

We simply can’t afford to be this generous to illegals. They should simply be denied all welfare. If they were, chances are good they would leave the country.

Jmoney

July 19th, 2012
1:17 pm

Maria is 100% right. These kids did not break the law, their parents did. If your child is in the car when you’re caught speeding should he also get the ticket? The congressman has no knowledge as to immigration law in this country and should be ashamed to express this opinion without doing some background research. Virtually every president has issued executive orders regarding immigration. Even his beloved President Reagan issued one allowing Chinese students to remain in the U.S. This too was done in the “backrooms” of the white house.

larry

July 19th, 2012
1:49 pm

Young = Grown ups(18-40 years old)
These grown ups have a home in Mexico. Let them take their free American Paid high school education back home.
WE OWE THEM NOTHING !!!!!!

wigglwagon

July 19th, 2012
2:42 pm

Maria says, “Moreover, qualifying students would be able to apply for a work permit that is renewable every two years.”

Every application for one of these work permits is irrefutable proof of the existence of the criminal parents who created this problem. Every work permit issued should be matched by the permanent deportation of 2 parents.

Vox Populi

July 19th, 2012
3:16 pm

Nothing but hateful lies & racism is emerging from the White House & DOJ these days. The majority of American citizens is having to endure apartheid…worse than anything South Africa could have ever instituted!

CRIMINALS must be punished, even if their skin is brown. CRIMINAL SQUATTERS illegally in our country MUST BE DEPORTED!!!

What part of that isn’t clear to you?

These weepy “young immigrants” pine on about how coming to America illegally wasn’t their choice. Perhaps, BUT THEY MADE NO MOVES TO APPLY FOR LEGAL STATUS in all these years. Supposed a kid is arrested for murder, but claims his parents put him up to it. Does everyone just WALK?

Once we clean house in November we can begin rebuilding a nation BASED ON OUR CONSTITUTION…although I expect some severe amendments will be in order…like NO more anchor babies!

We cannot let our great nation become another Mexico!

Anne Mitchell

July 19th, 2012
3:55 pm

Is there an group entitled ‘Georgia Association of Caucasian Elected Officials’?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

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

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”!

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).

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!!

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.

Not Blind

July 20th, 2012
8:52 am

Aquagirl, the phrase illegal alien had not even been conceived when the 14th was made law. It was specifically intended to ensure that children born of slaves were given citizenship. The key phrase is “subject to the jurisdiction”. Illegal aliens are citizens of their home country and therefore “subject to the jurisdiction of that country”. Not even our current congress would write a law that made citizens of children born to parents subject to deportation. Applying the 14th to the current mess would be like using some 19th century law to regulate nuclear power plants.

Alan

July 20th, 2012
10:08 am

OK Let’s say you let the kids stay, what about mommy and daddy?
The are those who would say if JR. can stay its not fair to kick mommy and daddy out!
If the kids apply for this. We know we’re ther criminal. Mommy and daddy are.
Good by mommy and daddy

Not Blind

July 20th, 2012
11:15 am

Alan, if they allow the kids to stay and their mommy and daddy you would suddenly find out that mommy and daddy have 10 more kids back in their home country and it wouldn’t be right to not allow those kids to come to the US. Oh, and also that mommy and daddy are the legal guardians to scores of cousins back in the home country. Hey, it worked for them back in the Reagan amnesty so why not now ??