By Robert Schlesinger |
Friday, President Obama announced changes to Department of Homeland Security policy that would allow certain undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children the opportunity to apply for a two-year stay that would shield them from deportation. Under the proposal, illegal immigrants under 30 years of age who came to the America illegally before they were 16 will be protected from deportation and can apply for a two-year work visa (which can be renewed indefinitely) given that they have lived in the United States continuously for at least five years, have not committed any crimes, have a high school diploma (or GED equivalent), or have served (or are currently serving) in the military. Obama said the plan is not a permanent solution, as it does not provide a path to citizenship for the young immigrants, but rather a stopgap measure until he and Congress can pass long-term comprehensive immigration reform.
The president's executive order resembles the stipulations put forth by the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill that would allow for young immigrants with similar qualifications a path to citizenship. The legislation once had bipartisan support but was stalled in the Senate. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio was working on his own version of immigration reform, called "DREAM Act lite" by some, that had gotten the support of presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney. Obama's announcement pre-empted such a measure; Rubio said he would no longer be pushing his legislation before the election and his spokesperson condemned Obama for derailing Rubio's efforts.
Supporters of Obama's policy say that it will allow talented young people, undocumented through no fault of their own, to step out of the shadows and contribute to American society. Opponents say that it amounts to amnesty, which could encourage more illegal immigrations, and that Obama was wrong to sidestep Congress. Is Obama right to grant young illegal immigrants work permits? Here is the Debate Club's take:
Alex Nowrasteh Immigration Policy Analyst at the Cato Institute
Tamar Jacoby President of ImmigrationWorks USA
Matthew Spalding Director of the B. Kenneth Simon Center for American Studies at the Heritage Foundation
Luis Alvarado Political Analyst for CNN Español and Telemundo
Colin Hanna President of Let Freedom Ring
Roy Beck Founder and President of NumbersUSA