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Obama’s immigration speech sparks a false flame of hope

Jose Soto

“For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations,” said Obama during the start of his speech Thursday evening, Nov. 20 about the country’s stagnating immigration reform. For six years now, the Obama administration and Congress have see-sawed through propositions and shut down’s over what to do about the millions of undocumented immigrants living in our country.

Obama announced last night that he would single-handedly, but temporarily, attempt to fix the situation himself through executive orders. The president plans to defer the deportation of the parents of children who are U.S. citizens or hold legal residency and further expand the DACA plan to allow students to stay in the country without worrying about deportation. The qualifying individuals may reside in the country as long as they pass a background check and agree to pay the applicable taxes.

Obama also promised to increase more agents and security in border towns, which he says has caused illegal crossings to decrease by more than half since he took office. Obama also noted that illegal crossings have been at their “lowest level since the 1970s.”

As promising and as affirming as Obama’s speech might have been, it still lacked the action that many Americans–especially undocumented ones–have been expecting from the president since he first took office in 2009. The Obama campaign promised immigration reform within its first term of presidency if he were to be elected. However, the number of deportations and, consequently, the number of families torn apart have increased under his administration.

Much of this has been due to the Republican side of Congress being extremely reluctant to budge on any proposition made by Democrats, including immigration reform. Not surprisingly, many Republicans started to ridicule the president soon after his speech.

House Speaker and Republican John Boehner told the media that the house “will not stand idly by as the president undermines the rule of law and places lives at risk.” He also said Obama sabotaged any possibility at a comprehensive immigration law and that he “acted like a king.”

At this point, it is wise for Obama to use–perhaps even abuse–his power as president and call his plan into effect, which he noted has been the way presidents have handled the situation for more than 50 years. But the vagueness of his plan doesn’t clearly state how this is going to help the undocumented immediately. It will take a while for that demographic to come out of the dark, especially those who do not yet speak English and rely on a few family members to relay the information. Furthermore, it doesn’t directly apply to those who are not here with children, and who are studying here, and that is a large population. It also doesn’t clearly state what the background check or amount of taxation entails and that make these individuals shy away from applying for residency or work permits for quite some time.

Obama also mentioned that his plan isn’t one of amnesty and doesn’t allow undocumented immigrants to become citizens. Shouldn’t that be the ultimate goal? Wouldn’t we want these incognito Americans to become as American as they can possibly be?

Even if this is somewhat of a small victory for all undocumented immigrants, it isn’t near the amount of action that is needed to assure a fixed immigration issue. With more than five million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States, an effective and prompt fix needs to be put into effect. Obama’s intentions are considerate and modest, but they are not what the country needs–we need a thorough and executive initiative that addresses every single undocumented immigrant and it needs to happen sooner rather than later.

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About the Contributor
Jose Soto, Staff Reporter
Jose Soto is a multimedia journalism major with a minor in creative writing. He joined The Prospector team in November of 2013 as an entertainment reporter. Jose previously wrote fashion blogs for various mediums. He has since written about musical performances, restaurant reviews, artist features and writes occasional columns. In addition to writing for the Prospector, Jose also writes for Minero Magazine and for The City Magazine. A fan of prose and lyricism, he also writes material on his personal time.  A musical enthusiasts as well, he strives to keep a broad music library and hopes to write music reviews while transitioning into news reporting as well.  He also highly enjoys coffee, reading a good book and dining out. Jose plans to pursue a career with The New York Times, The Denver Post or NPR.
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  • A

    A dangerous precedentNov 30, 2014 at 1:25 PM

    I posted the comment below in a related article but it applies here too.

    “Credibility in immigration policy can be summed up in one sentence: those who should get in, get in; those who should be kept out, are kept out; and those who should not be here will be required to leave. The top priorities for detention and removal, of course, are criminal aliens. But for the system to be credible, people actually have to be deported at the end of the process.”

    These are the words of former Texas Democratic Congresswoman Barbara Jordan (1936 –1996). Some background: Ms. Jordan was the first black person elected to the Texas Senate after Reconstruction and the first southern black woman elected to the U.S. Congress. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was the first black woman to be buried in the Texas State Cemetery. Her dad was a Baptist preacher and her mother a maid. She was denied admission to the University of Texas, thanks to Jim Crow laws, and attended Texas Southern instead. But most important, when Barbara Jordan spoke, everyone listened regardless of their political affiliation. She was a brilliant and electric orator.

    Rep. Jordan is relevant to the immigration issue because she was appointed Chair of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform by President Clinton. In 1995, after the Commission released its findings and recommendations, Rep. Jordan was called to testify before Congress on the issue of immigration. And the key declaration of the committee she chaired was the statement at top. This coming from a formerly poor, black, empathetic, brilliant Democrat who, nevertheless, didn’t let her compassion blind her to good policy for our country.

    By choosing to selectively enforce U.S. immigration laws, President Obama acted in a manner that is very Latin American and problematic. You see, countries that respect and enforce the rule of law, and expect their leaders to do the same, have the highest living standards in the world. These are first-world countries such as the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Japan, Germany, South Korea, Norway, etc. Now compare the living standards of Latin American countries where it’s common, if not expected, for elected leaders and even low level bureaucrats to enforce or ignore laws as they see fit. It’s this crucial cultural difference that we Americans must preserve and that all lawful immigrants to this country must fully embrace to keep America great.

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Obama’s immigration speech sparks a false flame of hope