Presidential Action on Immigration a Good First Step
President Barack Obama’s Immigration Accountability Executive Actions will, in the face of congressional inaction, provide a long-overdue and fair path to legal status for some undocumented residents of the United States. The president’s actions will also help update an outdated visa system. A comprehensive update of the immigration system is still necessary, and Congress and the White House must work together in a bipartisan fashion to fix what everyone agrees is a broken system.
AAUW’s member-endorsed public policy priorities support the “civil and human rights of all immigrants, including a fair and just path to legal status.” The president’s actions provide a path to legal status for an estimated 4 million to 5 million of the 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, including
- Parents of U.S.citizens and legal residents
- Victims of crime (U visas) and human trafficking (T visas)
- Additional “dreamers,” i.e., those who entered the United States as children before January 1, 2010, regardless of how old they are today
This is not a free pass. Immigrants eligible under the president’s actions must pass criminal and national security background checks and pay taxes and fines to have a shot at temporary legal status, which must be renewed after three years.
The president’s plan to modernize the outdated visa system will reduce costs and burdens on employers and families, as well as crack down on fraud. Many of the president’s immigration reforms mirror policies that AAUW supported in the bipartisan, Senate-passed immigration reform bill, which the House never called up for a vote.
According to the Council of Economic Advisors (CEA), these policies could increase U.S. economic output by an estimated 0.4 to 0.9 percent over 10 years, increasing the GDP by $90 billion to $210 billion in 2024. The policies will not affect employment opportunities for U.S.-born workers, the CEA says, but are expected to raise average wages for U.S. workers by 0.3 percent by 2024. Importantly, the policies are also expected to cut federal deficits by $25 billion in 2024 due to additional real GDP growth over the next 10 years.
I have always worked hard in school, but because I am not a citizen, I am not eligible for scholarships and funds from schools.
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