One Reaction to the President’s Executive Action


November 21, 2014

[Editor’s note: In August, CHN organized a conference call with the Obama Administration and several people who provide services to immigrants around the country. With the President’s action last night, we asked the on-the-ground experts who participated in the call to share their reactions. One response is below.]
The word that struck me in President Obama’s announcement for administrative relief on November 20, 2014, was “accountability.” As members of the global community, immigration and migration is a fact of life. Every country has the right to control its borders. Every country has the obligation to do so with respect for the human rights of the migrants.

In the three-fold plan outlined last night, controlling the border – preventing unlawful entries and removing those without authority to be here – was the first point. My question is: What is the cost of border patrol and detention facilities and is the government accountable to the US taxpayers?

The second point of allowing international students and workers to continue to live and work in the United States upon completion of their education and training is a very wise step in participating in a multilingual, multicultural, global community. Let people move as easily as goods and money to create and maintain and grow the global village. Can we in the USA reconcile our need for immigrants along the whole spectrum of the economy?

The third point of allowing certain undocumented persons to come out of the shadows, to get on a list to not be deported, to pay taxes, and to get a work permit may allow parents of US citizen and permanent resident children to have less anxiety for a short time. Like the young people who came forth to apply under the Deferred Action Childhood Arrival (DACA) program, we will see the human faces of our hopeful brothers and sisters.  However, to have a place at the table for these immigrants requires an act of Congress to bring any and all of the proposed legislation to the floor for a reasoned, thoughtful humane debate on long term solutions. Can Congress be accountable to do its job? Congress has the power. Can Congress have the will to do so?

The president’s plan for administrative relief is another patch on the bicycle tire of immigration law. Is it not time for a new set of tires that will allow us to stay on the path for our common purpose-the dignity and respect of each person participating in all aspects of life? As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “We may have come on different ships, but we are all in the same boat.”