Immigration

The Latest Crack in Our Broken Immigration System

Undocumented immigrants who arrive as children may be well into their 40s before they get a green card.

— by  

Diana_Torres-small-color-headshotIn a bustling room at the Third Presbyterian Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico a group of white and Latino parishioners gathered for a workshop on immigration. They wanted to learn more about the issue.

Julio Alvarez, a Mexican immigrant, was there to answer their questions. “Why can’t immigrants just wait in line and move here legally? Isn’t there a process to do that?” one parishioner asked. “The truth is,” Alvarez replied, “standing in line is a myth for the majority of us.”

Stone Cold Immigrants, an OtherWords cartoon by Khalil Bendib

Alvarez’s personal experience with our nation’s immigration system illustrates this harsh reality.

Mexico’s weak economy pushed Alvarez out of his country in 1996. “When I decided to immigrate to Albuquerque, New Mexico I had 5 pesos — or less than a dollar — in my pocket and a family to feed,” he recounts.

Upon his arrival, Alvarez’s U.S.-citizen brother sponsored his petition for U.S. residency. As allowed by federal law, he included his wife, Myrna, and their school-age son, Edgar, in his application. He hoped that all of them could eventually reside in the United States legally.

That was 16 years ago.

Since then, Alvarez has established a successful automotive repair shop, bought a home, and saved enough money to send his child to college. But our broken immigration system has left him standing in that immigration “line.” And a recent Supreme Court decision just made things worse.

It takes the Citizenship and Immigration Services agency an average of seven years to grant immigrants green cards. Due to the structure of the immigration system that imposes a per-country cap, the wait now lasts more than two decades for Mexican immigrants.

As long as the petitioners’ dependent children don’t come of age during that period, they remain eligible for green cards. If those children turn 21 before the family reaches the front of that proverbial line, a Supreme Court majority recently ruled, those young immigrants “age out.” They lose their place in the immigration line where they may have stood for most of their young lives.

That’s a brutal reality for the Alvarez family.

Julio Alvarez has waited 16 years for his green card. He probably needs to wait two more years — or even longer. Meanwhile, Edgar will turn 21 and lose his place in the line he has waited on for more than half his life.

If Edgar, an engineering student at the University of New Mexico, applies for his own green card, he’ll be in his 40s before he gets to the front of the line. Tens of thousands of people face this Orwellian predicament.

The new ruling makes congressional action even more urgent. But House Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s stunning defeat to David Brat in his recent primary means that the already stagnated immigration reform debate may hit a dead end on Capitol Hill. According to conventional wisdom that ignores the prevailing views in that Virginia House district, anti-immigrant fervor helped Cantor’s tea party challenger pull off a surprise win against a candidate who outspent him 40:1.

This is bad news for Edgar Alvarez, who will turn 21 later this year.

After he reaches that milestone and graduates college, he may be forced to move to Mexico, a country he barely knows.

If Edgar wants to stay here he has limited options: He can marry a U.S. citizen or resident. Or he can find an employer to sponsor his green card. Few employers make this commitment because it’s a costly and time-consuming process.

If Edgar can’t find a path to shedding his undocumented status, his New Mexican community will feel the loss. The young man engages in local politics and campus life. He pays taxes, mentors younger boys who are aspiring engineers, and works as a public health advocate.

How can the United States turn its back on the more than 560,000 talented, young adults that are in a situation similar to his?

Our nation can certainly do better than that.


Diana Anahi Torres-Valverde is the New Mexico Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. The author changed the name of the church and the names of the members of the “Alvarez family” in this commentary at their request. IPS-dc.org
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

America the Beautiful for the 21st Century

Coca-Cola deserves praise for its inclusive Super Bowl commercial.

—by Raul A. Reyes

Raul A. Reyes

During this year’s Super Bowl, Coca-Cola debuted a 60-second commercial paying tribute to the diversity of our nation. Coke’s “It’s Beautiful” ad featured expansive scenes of the country and shots of a wide variety of real people. Some of them were enjoying a Coke.

It was set to “America the Beautiful” — as sung in seven different languages, including English, Spanish, Tagalog, and Hindi.

This commercial generated a profoundly negative response among conservative commentators. They reacted with hostility, fear, and even bigotry. To their discredit, these commentators revealed not only their ignorance — but also a willful refusal to accept the reality of America in the 21st century.

imageOn his radio show, Glenn Beck termed the ad “in your face,” and an attempt to “divide people.” This is quite ironic, considering that only weeks ago Beck admitted that his Fox News program was itself divisive.

“I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart,” he said. He’s right about that. His conspiracy theories, “birther” comments, and demagoguery were a far more corrosive influence on American society than any commercial ever could be.

Former Rep. Allen West also took offense at the Coke commercial.

“If we cannot be proud enough as a country to sing “American the Beautiful” [sic] in English in a commercial during the Super Bowl, by a company as American as they come — doggone we are on the road to perdition,” the Florida Republican wrote on his website.

Even though West gets the name of the song wrong, that does not stop the tea-partying politician from calling the spot “truly disturbing.” As a self-styled “Guardian of the Republic,” West might be surprised to know that our country doesn’t have an official language and that the Census Bureau reports that 381 languages are commonly spoken within our borders.

Then there’s Todd Starnes, who tweeted “Couldn’t make out that song they were singing. I only speak English.” The Fox Radio host went on to wonder, “So was Coca-Cola saying America is beautiful because new immigrants don’t learn to speak English?”

Apparently these conservatives need a decoder for this commercial. “With ‘It’s Beautiful,’ we are simply showing that America is beautiful and Coke is for everyone,” explained Katie Bayne, President of North American Brands for Coca-Cola in a statement.

By the way, new immigrants do learn English. Consider a 2012 study by the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project that looked at language use among Latino immigrants.

While the first generation is usually only proficient in Spanish, by the second generation, the use of Spanish falls as the use of English rises. By the third generation, English is the dominant language. A separate study last year by University of Wisconsin researchers found that Latino immigrants are learning English faster than previous groups of immigrants.

It’s sad that Beck, West, Starnes and other conservative commentators don’t appreciate the richness of our multicultural society.

The fact is that our country has always been multilingual. There are 169 Native North American languages that are still spoken today, linguist Nataly Kelly notes at The Huffington Post, and several of the Founding Fathers spoke languages besides English, including John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe.

Today, 60 million Americans speak a language other than English at home. This year, for the first time, the Super Bowl was also televised in Spanish. So Coke’s commercial truly reflects our nation’s past, present, and future. What’s wrong with that?

Coca-Cola deserves praise for its inclusive Super Bowl commercial. And critics of the ad ought to think about the motto on the Great Seal of the United States: E pluribus unum. It means “Out of many, one”– — and it’s in Latin.


Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist in New York City.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

State-by-State Reports: The Economic Benefits of Fixing Our Broken Immigration System

— by Megan Slack, August 01, 2013

America has always been a nation of immigrants, and throughout the nation’s history, immigrants from around the globe have kept our workforce vibrant, our businesses on the cutting edge, and helped to build the greatest economic engine in the world. But our nation’s immigration system is broken and has not kept pace with changing times. Today, too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living and working in the shadow economy. Neither is good for the U.S. economy or American  families.

Commonsense immigration reform will strengthen the U.S. economy and create jobs. Independent studies affirm that commonsense immigration reform will increase economic growth by adding more high-demand workers to the labor force, increasing capital investment and overall productivity, and leading to greater numbers of entrepreneurs starting companies in the U.S.

Economists, business leaders, and American workers agree –  and it’s why a bipartisan, diverse coalition of stakeholders have come together to urge Congress to act now to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from unauthorized workers and from those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules. The Senate recently passed a bipartisan, commonsense immigration reform bill would do just that – and it’s time for the House of Representations to join them in taking action to make sure that commonsense immigration reform becomes a reality as soon as possible.

In addition to giving a significant boost to our national economy, commonsense immigration reform will also generate important economic benefits in each state, from increasing workers’ wages and generating new tax revenue to strengthening the local industries that are the backbone of states’ economies. The new state by state reports below detail how just how immigration reform would strengthen the economy and create jobs all regions of our country.

We must take advantage of this historic opportunity to fix our broken immigration system in a comprehensive way. At stake is a stronger, more dynamic, and faster growing economy that will foster job creation, higher productivity and wages, and entrepreneurship.

STATE REPORTS

Alabama Alaska Arizona Arkansas
California Colorado Connecticut Delaware
Florida Georgia Hawaii  
Idaho Illinois Indiana Iowa
Kansas Kentucky Louisiana Maine
Maryland Massachusetts Michigan Minnesota
Mississippi Missouri Montana Nebraska
Nevada New Hampshire New Jersey New Mexico
New York North Carolina North Dakota Ohio
Oklahoma Oregon Pennsylvania Rhode Island
South Carolina South Dakota Tennessee Texas
Utah Vermont Virginia Washington
West Virginia Wisconsin Wyoming  

Reprinted from The White House Blog.  For more information:

Heritage’s Fatally Flawed Study Doubles Down on Romney’s 47 Percent

By Marshall Fitz, Philip Wolgin, and Patrick Oakford

Even though the 2012 presidential election put an end to Mitt Romney’s idea that 47 percent of Americans were moochers “who are dependent upon government,” the Heritage Foundation on Monday doubled down on that thinking, releasing a report that claimed that immigration reform could cost the country $6.3 trillion.

But to believe the Heritage Foundation is to believe—as they say on page 10—that just under 70 percent of all Americans are moochers, taking more from the American economy than they pay in. Only from a starting point that claims 70 percent of Americans “take” from the economy rather than pay into it, can Heritage claim that legalized immigrants would also cost the government trillions of dollars:

 

Unsurprisingly, a bevy of conservative voices, including Paul Ryan, Doug Holtz-Eakin, Grover Norquist, the Cato Institute, and the Bi-Partisan Policy Institute’s Immigration Task Force (co-chaired by former governor Haley Barbour) have all come out against the study.

The fact of the matter is that Heritage’s study is fatally flawed, failing to account for any changes that might occur after legalization. Here are three examples of how Heritage misses the mark:

1. They do not account for increases in wages after legalization: Previous empirical studies of legalized immigrants (particularly the seminal 1996 Department of Labor study of the nearly 3 million unauthorized immigrants who gained legal status under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986,) have found that legalized workers see a 15.1 percent increase in their wages within 5 years. Recent research has also found that citizenship leads to an addition 10 percent increase in earnings. And yet the Heritage study only includes a 5 percent increase. Higher wages and citizenship means more tax revenue, and a lower fiscal cost because immigrants will pay more taxes on their increased earnings and their increased earnings will lower the need and likelihood of using social programs.

2. They count children only in the “benefits-received” column: Heritage includes even native-born U.S. citizen children of unauthorized immigrants in their calculations, leading to large expenditures on things like public K-12 education. And yet they fail to consider any taxes that these children will pay, simply noting that “the odds that the children of unlawful immigrant, on average, will become strong net taxpayers are minimal.” But all children are “costly” when it comes to getting a public education—the implicit bargain is they pay back into the system once they graduate and become taxpayers. By discounting any of these future payments Heritage artificially inflates their overall costs.

3. They undercount current and future education levels: The Heritage Foundation report is premised on the idea that people with lower levels of education use more in benefits than they pay in taxes. So the percentage of people that Heritage counts as less educated matters. But they do not account for the fact that once legal, people have a strong incentive to get more education and training, now that they can legally work in better jobs. So even if the current undocumented population is skewed more toward people without a high school degree, the incentives to get more education in the future (especially for people who might need this education to qualify for things like the DREAM Act provision) will mean a more-educated future immigrant population. Past experience indicates that these aspiring Americans would likely take the steps needed to invest in their education. For example, a Department of Labor study that followed the cohort of immigrants that gained legal status in 1986 found that just five years later, immigrants at all levels had made investments in their education.

Taking each of these changes into account would significantly raise the amount of tax revenue paid by legalized immigrants, and minimize their costs. By failing to account for them, Heritage gives a skewed picture of the ‘cost’ to Americans from immigration reform, one that defies logic and believability.

And beyond just the direct costs and benefits from immigration, the report casually discards any possibility of indirect benefits from immigrants, as the newly legalized take their higher wages and spend them in the economy, growing demand for goods and services, helping grow businesses, and creating more economic value — all of which helps the economy. In fact providing legalization will boost the U.S. GDP by a cumulative $832 billion over ten years, creating on average 121,000 new jobs in each of those years. These are benefits Heritage does not even begin to consider, instead attempting to resurrect the divisive “moochers and makers” arguments of Romney.

Our guest bloggers are Marshall Fitz, Philip E. Wolgin, and Patrick Oakford, who study immigration at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

National and State-by-State Economic Benefits of Immigration Reform

By Robert Lynch and Patrick Oakford

On April 16, 2013, the Senate’s “Gang of 8”—a bipartisan group of eight U.S. senators—filed the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013. At the core of the bill is a provision that will provide a pathway to earned legalization and citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America.

Undocumented immigrants are currently earning far less than their potential and therefore paying much less in taxes than they otherwise would be. Overall, they are contributing significantly less to the U.S. economy than they potentially could. With legalization and citizenship, undocumented immigrants will produce and earn more, pay more in taxes, boost the American economy, increase the incomes of all Americans, and promote job growth.

This analysis of the economic impact on 24 states, many with the largest undocumented populations, demonstrates that it is not just the nation but also each individual state that will benefit from immigration reform. The sooner we grant legal status and provide a pathway to citizenship to undocumented immigrants, the sooner all Americans will be able to reap these benefits.

Read more and download the full issue brief here.

10 Terrible Amendments Offered by Republican Senators

Mar 22, 2013 | By ThinkProgress War Room

The Senate has been debating the Democratic budget for the past few days. One of the quirks of Senate rules means that the amendment process on the budget is completely open, allowing senators to file and request a vote on an unlimited number of amendments. They don’t even have to say what their amendments are in advance, but many still choose to file them in advance. Since the process is so open, a rarity in the gridlocked Senate, senators often use this opportunity to file highly political message amendments. We sifted through the more than 400 amendments filed and found dozens that are terrible, ridiculous, nonsensical, damaging, or just plain crazy. Here’s a look at ten of those proposals.

  1. BOSS IN YOUR BEDROOM: Sens. Fischer (R-NE), Cruz (R-TX), Johanns (R-NE), and Enzi (R-WY) introduced an amendment to put your boss in your bedroom by allowing them to deny you birth control coverage based on their beliefs, not yours. This is just one of numerous anti-Obamacare amendments offered by Republicans. Incidentally, the law turns three tomorrow. 42 GOP senators and 2 Democrats voted for this amendment.
  2. NRA-FUELED CONSPIRACY THEORIES: Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) offered an amendment that would prevent the U.S. from signing on to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty. The NRA and other right-wing groups falsely claim that this is some backdoor gun grab, which led the Senate to fail to ratify the treaty last year. The NRA is currently making a full court press to kill or at least gut the treaty. Sen. Vitter (R-LA) offered a similar amendment that would prohibit the U.N. from registering or taxing Americans’ guns, something the organization obviously has no plans to do.
  3. HOUSE GOP BUDGET: While Republicans found time to cook up hundreds of other amendments, it seems no Republican senator wanted to vote on the House GOP budget as a substitute for the Senate Democratic plan. When Democrats offered the draconian Ryan plan that ends Medicare and raises taxes on the middle class in order to slash them on the wealthy, a measly 40 GOP senators voted for the plan from their counterparts in the House. Three GOP senators, however, voted against it because it wasn’t extreme enough.
  4. GIVEAWAY TENS OF BILLIONS TO WALL STREET BANKS: In the same so-called “reconciliation” bill that was necessary to finish passing Obamacare was a provision that stopped routing federal student loans through the big banks. Previously, the banks acted as a middleman between the federal government and borrowers, reaping billions in fees each year even though they bore no risk because the government was the one guaranteeing the loans. The banks role was eliminated in 2010 and the money was shifted to Pell grants. Earlier today, Republicans put forward an amendment to repeal all of the Obamacare bill, including the student loan reforms. This would literally take money away from students and hand it over to the Wall Street banks. 45 Republicans backed this proposal, which also was the third time this week that GOP senators forced a vote on repealing Obamacare.
  5. OBAMAPHONE: One of the more racially-charged moments in last year’s presidential campaign came when Republican groups promoted a video of an African-American woman proclaiming her support for Obama because, she said, the government was giving out free cell phones, among other things. The Drudge Report and other right-wing media immediately dubbed this the “Obamaphone” controversy. As it turned out, the FCC’s Lifeline program offering free cell phones to low-income Americans began under President George W. Bush and is based on a Reagan-era program to provide low-income Americans with subsidized telephone service. Sen. Coburn (R-OK) offered an amendment to “reform” or, more likely, eliminate, this otherwise obscure program that is important to low-income Americans.
  6. MITT ROMNEY’S TAX PLAN: The Democratic plan raises close to $1 TRILLION in revenue just by closing loopholes that benefit the wealthy and corporate special interests like Big Oil. Republicans wanted to replace this with revenue-neutral tax reform that used the money to pay for huge new tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations instead of using it to reduce the deficit. This is almost identical to the Romney-Ryan tax plan that raised middle class taxes and which voters soundly rejected last year. All 45 GOP senators voted for this recycled Romney plan, which Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) also included in this year’s House GOP budget.
  7. KILL WIND JOBS, SEND CLEAN ENERGY INDUSTRY TO CHINA: Sen. Alexander (R-TN) wants to repeal the vital tax credits for wind power, just as Mitt Romney proposed last year. This would kill 37,000 jobs more or less immediately and effectively cede the clean energy industry to China and our other foreign competitors.
  8. LEAVE THE UN: Sen. Paul (R-KY) proposed one measure to save a very small amount of money: withdraw from the United Nations.
  9. RACE-BAITING WELFARE LIES: You may remember that Mitt Romney and other Republicans advanced the outright lie that President Obama “removed the work requirement from welfare.” This was categorically untrue, but that didn’t stop Republicans from airing millions of dollars in ads about it. In any case, the GOP campaign of distortion around the amendment has resulted in no states taking advantage of the flexibility requested by some Republican governors that the Obama administration offered to grant. Nevertheless, Sen. Inhofe (R-OK) is still so concerned that he offered an amendment to address the non-existent problem of the work requirement having been removed from welfare. For good measure, he offered a second mean-spirited amendment that mandates drug testing for welfare recipients.
  10. CREATE A PERMANENT IMMIGRANT UNDERCLASS: Sen. Sessions (R-AR), who has faced charges of racial prejudice in the past and was once denied a seat on the federal bench as a result, put forward a proposal to bar even those immigrants who receive legal status from receiving numerous tax breaks directed at the working poor. This would even prevent immigrants from receiving tax breaks that they are claiming on behalf of their American citizen children.

These are just a few of the dozens of terrible proposals put forward today by Republican senators.


This material [the article above] was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

Key Points of Obama Immigration Reform Proposals

America’s immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country.

It is time to act to fix the broken immigration system in a way that requires responsibility from everyone —both from the workers here illegally and those who hire them—and guarantees that everyone is playing by the same rules.

Read the full article at http://ramirezgroup.com/key-points-of-obama-immigration-reform-proposals

Border Fears Riddled with Holes

Despite the rhetoric from immigration hardliners, we are indeed securing our borders.

By Raul A. Reyes

Raul A. Reyes

Senator John Cornyn recently discussed immigration reform at a meeting of the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “I think there have to be some conditions satisfied. One is that people know we’ve done everything we can to secure the border,” the Republican said at the Austin event.

The Texan lawmaker warned that a “porous” border could leave the country “vulnerable to the sorts of attacks that we sustained on 9/11.”

Cornyn and other Republicans just don’t get it. Although securing the border is important, studies show that we’ve already done that. The biggest problem facing our immigration system isn’t border security. It’s what to do with the undocumented immigrants who are already here. The solution is to create a path to citizenship for them, and the time to do it is now.

Regarding immigrants and the threat of terrorism, recall that all 19 of the 9/11 hijackers had valid tourist visas. Increased border security alone wouldn’t have prevented them from entering the country.

GOP lawmakers like Cornyn have long favored an enforcement-first approach to immigration. A new study conducted by the nonpartisan Migration Policy Institute shows that this is already in place. Consider that the U.S. spends more on immigration enforcement than on all other law enforcement agencies combined. Last year, we spent nearly $18 billion on immigration enforcement, roughly 24 percent more than the total spending on the FBI, Secret Service, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other agencies.

Meanwhile, government statistics show that deportations hit a record high in 2012, and the Pew Center reports that illegal immigration is at “net zero” or even lower. So despite the rhetoric from immigration hardliners, we are indeed securing our borders.

Still, Representative Phil Gingrey (R-GA) told The New York Times that the Obama administration was weak on enforcement. He pledged to “continue working to secure our borders and enforce existing immigration law.” However, the Center for American Progress notes that the border security benchmarks set by Republicans during the 2007 immigration debate have largely been met. In fact, the goals for increasing border agents, increasing border barriers, and increasing penalties for illegal crossings have all been surpassed. More than 80 percent of the border meets one of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) three highest standards for control.

Cornyn, Gingrey, and other conservatives are stuck on the notion that we need more and more immigration enforcement, and they ignore the reality of what’s already in place and clear signs that undocumented immigration is declining. We can further militarize the border and throw more money at programs like Secure Communities — yet we will still have 11 million undocumented people living among us.

image

The American public recognizes that this is unacceptable; 62 percent of registered voters favor a path to citizenship for the undocumented, according to a December poll by Politico. Although Republicans may dislike the idea of citizenship for the undocumented, which they incorrectly term “amnesty,” it’s an essential component of immigration reform.

By the way, no one is proposing amnesty for the undocumented. Amnesty is a free pass. Comprehensive reform would require undocumented immigrants to pay fines, back taxes, and undergo background checks before they qualify for any adjustment in their immigration status. That’s not amnesty. That’s earned citizenship.

True, our border is not 100 percent sealed. But Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano is correct in her opinion that people who want the border totally secured are misguided. “There’s no border in the world that doesn’t have some form of migration, legal and illegal,” she told NPR. “So saying it has to be zero is like saying we have to put the United States under some sort of Tupperware container and seal it off. That’s not how our country operates.”

The calls for border security have become little more than an excuse to defer comprehensive immigration reform again and again. Enough already. Good sense and sound policy dictate that lawmakers craft a path to citizenship for our undocumented population — and finally solve our immigration mess.


Raul A. Reyes is an attorney and columnist. He lives in New York City.
Distributed via OtherWords (OtherWords.org)

96 Year-Old Latino Former Arizona Governor Detained By Border Patrol In 100° Heat

By Ian Millhiser on Jul 6, 2012 at 12:00 pm

This man is Raúl Héctor Castro. He is 96 years old, a former Arizona governor, and a former United States Ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia and Argentina. He was born in Mexico, and is a United States citizen.

Last month he was stopped by U.S. border patrol agents after residual radiation from a medical procedure he’d recently undergone triggered an alarm at a checkpoint in Tubac, AZ. The 96 year-old heart patient was then forced to exit his vehicle in the 100 degree Arizona heat and wait in a tent in a business suit, even as his companion begged the agents not to subject an elderly man to such treatment.

This is the third time the former governor and ambassador has been detained by border control. The first occurred years ago while he was repairing his own fence and agents stopped him and asked to see his work card — although they eventually desisted after Castro pointed out a sign by his farm entrance that read “Judge Castro.” The second occurred years later in San Diego, although that encounter ended shortly after someone recognized Castro and said “Governor, how are you?”


This article was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund. It was created for the Progress Report, the daily e-mail publication of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. Click here to subscribe.

President Obama’s Immigration Executive Order

Last Friday, the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy to make our immigration policy more fair and efficient.

President Obama said, “This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just, specifically for certain young people sometimes called DREAMers. Now, these are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license or a college scholarship.”

President Obama continued, “This is a temporary stop-gap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people…”

“In the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places. So we prioritized border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history — today, there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years. We focused and used discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education. And today, deportation of criminals is up 80 percent. We’ve improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully. Well, today, we’re improving it again.

President Obama concluded, “This is the right thing to do.”

Read the full remarks here and watch the video here.