Are children who are brought here illegally responsible for their actions? Or is the decision their parents made for them when they were young beyond their control? That has been a debate in the realm of immigration, and people tend to stand on one side of the issue.
Some feel that being here illegally is a black and white situation, and regardless of ones age, they are responsible for breaking the law. Others argue that many children are brought here without a say.
On Friday, Obama made a policy change to reflect those concerns. Under his new policy, people younger than 30 who entered the United States under the age of 16 can receive a two-year deferral from deportation. In order to qualify, these individuals have to pose no security or criminal threat and either have to be enrolled in school, a graduate or in the military. Those who qualify can also apply for work permits.
In his announcement, Obama said, “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure.”
According to CNN, this policy change is expected to affect approximately 800,000 people. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told CNN, “I’ve been dealing with immigration enforcement for 20 years and the plain fact of the matter is that the law that we’re working under doesn’t match the economic needs of the country today and the law enforcement needs of the country today.”
Obama has received many complaints, including a tweet from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who called the decision “a classic Barack Obama move of choosing politics over leadership.”
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith released a statement that said, “Many illegal immigrants will falsely claim they came here as children and the federal government has no way to check whether their claims are true.” Other complaints the CNN article shared included that now more illegal immigrants will be taking jobs from Americans in an already tough economy.
Others are in praise of the policy change. Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois said the new policy “will give these young immigrants their chance to come out of the shadows and be part of the only country they’ve ever called home.” In a response to claims that this was to earn more votes, he rejected the idea and said that this move will cost Obama votes as well, making this a leadership decision not a political gain decision.
Clarissa Martinez del Casto, director of immigration and national campaigns for the National Council of La Raza, stated, “There is overwhelming support for the protection of these children, as there is in the rest of the country. I think this could have an energizing effect on Latino voters,” she added, according to an NPR story.
Presumed Republican Nominee Mitt Romney shared that he believes a more permanent conclusion needs to be found. “I believe the status of young people who come here through no fault of their own is an important matter to be considered and should be solved on a long-term basis so they know what their future would be in this country,” said Romney, according to an article on Examiner.
How do you weigh in? Do you think this was the right move, or do you oppose the new policy change?