Imagine yourself living in a home for more than half your life and then being forced to go back to your previous address.
Obviously people move for a reason, as do those immigrants that leave their homeland to come to America.
Everyone asks “Why?” The main reason seems to revolve around the idea that more opportunities will await them in our great country.
But how much can they benefit from it if they are labeled “illegals” and are prevented from obtaining things like a drivers license—a piece of plastic from the DMV granting permission to drive—and having to fear getting deported if caught without one.
We learn in school that since the founding of this nation immigration has been a topic of debate in the United States. Now in 2012, an election year, this remains one of the hottest issues, especially with President Obama’s administration’s change to U.S. immigration policy.
Back in June, Obama announced that starting mid-August illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. before they were 16—and are younger than 30—would be able to apply for a temporary work permit that would defer their deportation for two years.
Applicants for the work permit must have no major criminal offenses, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.
The program, along with the DREAM Act, makes illegal immigrants eligible for a driver’s license, a Social Security number, a professional license and financial aid for college for a mere $465 fee.
Although the benefits provided are valuable for those who are eligible, these changes are not permanent and the intentions behind it are questionable.
First and foremost these temporary changes to the country’s immigration policy can change if a new president is elected. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has stated several times that he does not agree with Obama’s change or his use of an executive order to implement it. Romney has not blatantly announced that if elected he would reverse the work permit and deportation deferral program, but executive orders like this policy change can be overturned.
Dave Kraljic, a writer for Votetoracy.com, explained in one of his analysis that Obama overturned an executive order George W. Bush put in place regarding abortion.
Kraljic writes that it has “become a form of tug of war between the Republican Party and Democratic Party.” With a total of three over turnings from succeeding presidents after Ronald Reagan in 1984, the same can happen to Obama’s executive order to change the U.S. immigration policy.
This controversial issue could be the next “tug of war” between the two parties.
It is no wonder that immigrants fear that if they do apply for a work permit that their personal information might be held against them if the policy does not continue. Applicants are scared that their information, and their family members’, might get them deported in the future.
Personal information applicants must provide on the six-page application requires them to prove they meet the program’s long list of requirements.
In a recent Los Angeles Times article it was reported that, “Some people seeking old work records or pay stubs face resistance from employers fearful that their businesses could be prosecuted for hiring an illegal worker. Undocumented workers who submit paperwork with fake Social Security numbers are in a gray area.”
Exposing these illegal actions may cause problems in the future for immigrants that were just trying to make an honest living and employers who wanted to help.
It is not unreasonable for illegal immigrants to have this concern and explains why less than half of the people expected have applied for the deportation deferral program.
According to the LA Times article, “U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services officials had prepared to process 300,000 applications from young illegal immigrants by Oct. 1. But only about 120,000 people have applied so far.”
After Obama’s executive order I have also noticed that legal services and lawyers have increased their promotion of immigration services. It seems like a rather large coincidence.
The reality: legal advertising increased because immigrant’s fears are justified.
Americans question if this change was something on Obama’s agenda or just a stunt to expand his voter base. This is why legal services are focusing in on the work permit policy and collecting as much information to protect immigrants.
Coming from a family with members who immigrated from both Mexico and China I can see where these concerns are coming from.
As of now it seems there’s a risk immigrants are taking applying for this. These short-term benefits will not be a long-term solution.