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January 13, 2015

Obama’s Executive Action — Shadows Remain

Photo: Oberlin College

By Miguel Garcia

Ed Note: In late November, President Obama announced that he would eliminate the age cap for DACA, which offers temporary reprieve from deportation for undocumented immigrants who came to the country as children. He also extended that same deportation reprieve to undocumented parents of US resident children, while pouring more resources into ramping up the nation’s border security. Miguel Garcia, 20, is president of the Merced College chapter of the student group MEChA. He says that despite these steps on immigration reform, US policy ensures that many in his community will continue to remain in the shadows.

When President Obama announced his executive action to expand opportunities for  undocumented people living in the U.S., he said immigrants can now “come out of the shadows.” That may apply to some immigrants — parents of US-born children or those who came to the country as youth. But a great many will still remain in the dark.

The parents of Dreamers and existing DACA recipients, for example, will receive no help. Likewise for the parents whose children were not born in the United States. Despite having lived here for more than five years, paying taxes and generally being hard working people, they will watch from the sidelines — alongside those who have been here for less than five years — as many others begin their applications for employment authorization.

It is important to remember that while Obama’s executive action will benefit a great many, it comes as small comfort to those undocumented immigrants living here in the United States who do not have kids or may not even be married at all.

Neither does it help those who otherwise would have qualified but were among the millions deported under this administration and who have no means of returning legally. It’s a cruel irony.

It’s clear that many people will remain in the shadows. That is why activists must continue the fight. We need to push for and pass comprehensive immigration reform that will get these people out of the shadows, ensuring that their hard work and entrepreneurial leadership feeds into the betterment of the economy and society.

These people are assets to the country, not liabilities. From a strictly economic vantage, they provide labor, competition, and are consumers on top of that. Let them pursue their happiness while also giving them the power to maximize their utility to the nation’s economy.

That was and remains the bedrock of this nation’s success. Barring comprehensive immigration reform, the shadows will only endure.



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