By Stephanie Gonzalez Palumbo, Immigrant Rights Program Manager
In a primetime address last night, President Obama announced the executive action that he and his administration will take in lieu of congressional legislation regarding immigration reform.
As outlined by the president, this action is composed of three tiers: increased border enforcement, enhanced visa options for highly skilled workers and a delayed deportation option for nearly 4 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the U.S.
The third tier of this executive action deals with what has been the most contentious issue surrounding American immigration reform in the past three decades. The president’s executive action presents an opportunity for an estimated 4 million undocumented immigrants—parents of children who are citizens or permeant residents of the U.S. and have lived in the U.S. for more than five years—to come out from the shadows and be relived of the fear of deportation. Those who meet these qualifications must register, pay a fee, submit a criminal background check, and immediately begin paying taxes. The president was emphatic that this action is neither amnesty nor a path to citizenship. The action will last three years, or pending passed congressional legislation.
These individuals and families come from all over the world, seeking the promise of brighter future. They, like the generations of immigrants before, have established vibrant and diverse communities across the country. Many of these individuals have lived, worked and raised families in the U.S. for more than a decade, and have helped grow the American economy.
The Equal Rights Center applauds the President Obama’s action on immigration, and sincerely hopes that the next president will continue the work that he and his administration have started. The president’s actions have the ability create greater opportunity for immigrant communities, and to eradicate the culture of fear and discrimination faced by so many immigrants in America still today.