On Friday June 15, 2012 via Homeland Security Security Janet Napolitano and then by President Obama himself, a new policy directive was announced that the US Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) arm of the USCIS (United States Customs and Immigration Services) would no longer deport many illegal immigrants originally brought into the country as children.
Essentially effective immediately children brought into the US under the age of 16 at the time of entry by illegal immigrant parents who are currently enrolled or graduated in High School, College or Certificate level program or whom have served in the Military as well as now under the age of 30 with no criminal record would no longer be actively deported. Additionally they will be issued renewable 2 year work permits which essentially gives almost the same rights as a Green Card holder. It is estimated that this would cover around 800,000 kids mainly of Latino descent.
Now while it is clearly not these kids fault that they came into the country illegally and something should be done in this vein to resolve their status given they are actively and positively contributing to their local communities, it is a shame that again the legal immigrants have been ignored.
Legal Immigrants who have been working for many years on US working visas, some of which also have long standing Green Card PERM applications where they have been on waiting lists for years not only don’t benefit from this but quite possibly will have their own cases delayed with processing and longer waiting lists. Many residents of India, China and Mexico have waiting list times of 10 years and more, and those residents from all nations coming under the EB-3 visa (Green Card) classification have been on waiting lists for years, following the rules, paying extraordinary financial and legal costs related to immigration, paying thousands in taxes with no benefit and yet again they have to endure the bad end of the situation.
It is quite obvious the Obama Administration with the 2012 Presidential Election ahead in November are looking to shore up their large lead among Latino Voters and encourage that base to come out and vote with this directive that preempts a potential Republican led DREAM Act bill. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida (a Cuban American) a potential running mate of presumptive Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney is soon to submit a different version of the DREAM Act to the Democratic version which has been on the Congressional agenda since 2000 that is very similar to this directive from the President which bypasses Congress.
Again it is not that we believe this directive is misguided and is probably a good step to ensuring ever more Immigrant Americans can help US Prosperity and the US Economy as they are already doing in disproportionate numbers today. It is the fact that the legal immigrants who have followed the rules again get nothing and no reward from the doing the right thing and taking the much harder road of getting Permanent Residency and potentially US Citizenship.
To give you an idea apart from the huge costs and massively years long waiting list, legal immigrants to get to permanency in the US often have to endure;
- Many years doing the same job at the same pay level, forgoing rightfully earned promotions/pay raises because that will change the nature of their role meaning they have to file a new Green Card application and go back to the end of the waiting list
- Forgoing great offers to new companies for the same reason as above and having to go the back of the queue and restrictions in general to move to any new job and company
- Being apart from their spouse and kids because of the restrictive nature of spouses working on visas like the H-1B visa partner version called the H4 visa
- Having to continual visit US Consulates to renew status, update USCIS of any change of address and pay all US taxes with no benefits from Unemployment, Social Security and Medicare despite paying into these systems
The message to legal immigrants is that you may as well break the rules because what have you got to lose and you may stand to gain from policy directives like this.
Let’s hope that Legal Immigrants don’t continue to be ignored because for once Republican political talking points are spot on, this creates completely the wrong Incentive system for foreigners all over the world wanting to move to the US.