Illegal aliens and undocumented immigrants in the United States got a shot in the arm recently when President Barack Obama, bucking scathing criticism and threats from hostile Republicans, took executive action to reform and “fix the broken immigration system.”
Some reports peg the number of illegal immigrants in the US at between 11 and 13 million, but other sources set their figures between seven and 30 million.
Whatever the accurate total, “illegals” from Mexico just across the border comprise the largest group at 26 percent. Latin American countries, especially Central America, are blamed for 25 percent; Asia, nine percent; Europe and Canada, six percent; and three percent are from Africa and the rest of the world. They have risked it all for the American Dream.
Illegal immigration is defined as the act by which foreign nationals enter the United States without government permission (or a visa), or having a visa but staying beyond its termination date, in violation of immigration law.
Secure the borders
Billions of dollars have been spent to enforce the law and secure the borders, but these exorbitant expenditures have not solved the problem. Will Obama’s measure succeed? Who knows!
Unless this executive action is a purely political move, it may augur well for some 300,000 Pinoy TNTs who, in his words, can now “come out of the shadows.”
Although at first blush, the Obama move may seem like answered prayer; it might be a bit early to uncork the champagne, considering the conditions that must be met.
The plan is to protect undocumented foreign-born individuals with children who are American citizens and who have lived in the US for at least five years, as long as they register themselves, submit to and pass criminal background checks, and are willing to pay their “fair share” of taxes and penalty. When these requirements are satisfactorily met, they can apply to stay temporarily in the United States, without fear of deportation.
These provisions do not apply to those who have only recently arrived in the United States, and obviously those who plan to visit in the future.
It clearly states that it does not grant US citizenship but provides a legal way to earn it. And then it says: “They can apply to stay temporarily” in the United States. Wait a second. Does it say how long the now legal immigrant can stay? And is this period of time extendable? Renewable? Or are all bets off when that time is up?
Are you wondering why I am interested in this topic? Let me explain.
Once upon a long time ago, I was in the same boat as these kababayans. For reasons too tedious to enumerate, I overstayed. I ran out of extensions. It was nerve-wracking. Deportation is a scary word. I was in fear of my own shadow. I felt like a fugitive. I was!
Then one day I told my story to someone who knew the immigration laws of that time. I was told there was a special provision for teachers. I presented my credentials plus letters of recommendation and was accepted, legalized, in no time at all. It was a life changer.
Stop the agony
If in one fell swoop Obama can stop the agony, I am one with all the “indocumentados” as they celebrate. I know many Americans who are not too happy about the Obama move, and I fully understand their reasons. The world has changed since the time of the first settlers.
But for now, I am happy for the people who will soon sleep soundly, knowing that la migra will not come breaking down their door.
There will be great rejoicing in many parts of the US. Hopefully there will be no more heartbreaking images of illegal parents having to leave their US-born children. In the news I have seen pictures of Latinos carrying signs saying, “Gracias Obama.”
The heavily Republican Congress still has much to say about this. Media is having a field day ventilating the opposing views. Some think it will be bloody. It will be interesting to watch how this scenario plays out.
My thought: just maybe this move will again give meaning to the quote etched on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, especially the last few lines by Emma Lazarus: “Give me your tired, your poor, your masses yearning to breathe free.” No?
Hope is reborn in many hearts. But not all will pass the test. Will they continue to hide? I hope not. I say, come home!
I remember Jesusito when he was a little boy of four or five, his face full of gunpowder burns, shrapnel embedded in his head, just a hair away from his brain. He was in shock. He had lost his grandmother, little sister and an aunt in the Battle for Manila in 1945.
Fourteen months ago I saw him inconsolable over the loss of his only son Yesu.
Saturday morning I got the news that Jess Cabarrus had gone home to be with the Lord. I cried.
Life is indeed just a breath.
In a touching eulogy after the last Mass, his younger brother Jose recalled a day in the park in Madrid when he was only five. Jess held his hand as they walked and he felt safe. Today he knows it is the safest he will ever feel.
Before parting, Jose paused to say “Thank you, Jess.” He regretted putting off for so long.