By Jackson Booth, Reporter
One of the pressing issues facing the presidential candidates this election is how they will handle the nation’s immigration problems. As I addressed in my June 26 column, one of the first ethical actions President Obama has taken is to allow children that were brought to the U.S. illegally as children to remain in the U.S.
The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that about 500,000 illegal immigrants came to the U.S. from 2005 to 2008 and roughly 11.1 million illegal immigrants currently live in the U.S. Critics of the immigration system say that the process is lengthy and ineffective because immigration applications can take an upwards of five years to process. Regardless of one’s opinion on the issue, thousands of immigrants flood the borders every year, some of them bringing their young children.
It is important to first acknowledge one side note when attempting to address our nation’s complex immigration laws: it is logistically impossible to deport 11.1 million immigrants to their respective countries. Apart from being dishonorable, the deportation of millions of immigrants would take massive amounts of dollars and an effective method to track down illegal immigrants, which has yet to be created.
In order to relieve some of the by-products of illegal immigration, President Obama worked with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to institute policy that would ensure youth that were brought to the U.S. illegally as children would not be deported and can seek deferred action status.
According to the National Immigration Center (NIC), immigrants given the “deferred action” status are eligible to stay in the country for two years and seek employment authorization. Once the two years is over, those immigrants may apply again. In order to gain this status, applicants cannot be over 30 years of age as of June 15, 2012, have no major crimes on record, and several other criteria according to the NIC.
Recently, governors of Nebraska and Arizona have stated that they will not enforce President Obama’s immigration policy change that was made this past summer. The issue they have with the president’s plan is that deferred action residents are eligible to obtain drivers licenses. They said that deferred action persons are not legal citizens therefore they do not qualify for state benefits like driver’s licenses.
According to the 2005 Real ID Act, deferred action residents are in fact permitted to obtain driver’s licenses, but there are some specifics that are somewhat muddy. In a statement made by Michael Olivas an immigration expert at the University of Houston in the Christian Science Monitor, the uncertainties included in the Real ID Act could lead to a “constitutional throw down,” about the privileges that are included as a deferred action resident.
What upsets me most about the reaction from our own Nebraska Gov.Dave Heinemann, is that he is defaming the reputation of Nebraska residents. Time and time again, we have shown that we care about all Nebraskans including immigrant children.
In Nebraska, we have laws in place that guarantee young illegal immigrants brought here against their will as children have access to in-state tuition as long as they have: attended school for a certain number of years, graduated from high school, and signed an affidavit stating they have either applied to legalize their status or will do so as soon as eligible, according to the NIC.
In April of this year, the Nebraska Unicameral passed a law that gives prenatal care to illegal immigrants. Nebraska has had a long history of doing what is right in terms of treatment of immigrant children.
As I said in a past article, I have a friend from high school who was born in the U.S. while this person’s mother brought an older sibling to the country illegally. This sibling has lived their entire life in the U.S. and had adapted to the culture, language, and way of life.
To deport a young person with ambition and dreams of bettering their own life simply because of a parent’s crime, is immoral and un-American.
The mistake of the parent should not be rewarded, but those young people or “Dreamers” as they have been referred to, deserve the dignity to continue their life in the U.S. and achieve their dreams.