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Obama’s immigration plan

Crowds around the world rejoice at the news of the election of Barack Obama as the the 44th president of the United States.

05 November 2008. The country’s first black chief executive has won the endorsement of millions around the globe who cheered him as the man who speaks their fears, their hopes, their dreams.

The New York Times quotes Philippe Sands, a British international lawyer and author, who beleives that “People feel he is a part of them because he has this multiracial, multiethnic and multinational dimension. He represents, for people in so many different communities and cultures, a personal connection. There is an immigrant component and a minority component.”
Which takes us back to our editorial focus.

What is the stand Barack Obama will take on the key issue of immigration? How much will his “immigrant component” affect his outlook on what is one of the world most important phenomena: the “sixth continent” – over 200 million people who have left their country to search for a better life elsewhere or to ensure, in the most desperate circumstances, survival, to their own selves and their families?

The now President elect’s “blueprint on change” in regards to immigration reveals his belief that politicians have thus far focused on exploiting this divisive issue to rally consent rather than on finding a comprehensive solution to the problem. The result, he claims on his website, is that borders today are less secure than ever and that the American economy depends on millions of workers living in the shadows.

One of the mains reasons, Obama claims, for the increase of the number of undocumented immigrants by 40% since 2000, with more than a half-million people coming illegally or illegally overstaying their visas every year, is the broken and overwhelmed immigration bureaucracy which forces immigrants to wait years for applications.

“Our broken immigration system can only be fixed by putting politics aside and offering a complete solution that secures our border, enforces our laws and reaffirms our heritage as a nation of immigrants, “ he maintains.

Obama’s future policy is spelled out forcefully in the statement he made to the U.S. Senate in May last year: “In approaching immigration reform, I believe that we must enact tough, practical reforms… We need stronger enforcement on the border and at the workplace… But for reform to work, we also must respond to what pulls people to America… Where we can reunite families, we should. Where we can bring in more foreign-born workers with the skills our economy needs, we should… The time to fix our broken immigration system is now. It is critical that as we embark on this enormous venture to update our immigration system, it is fully reflective of the powerful tradition of immigration in this country and fully reflective of our values and ideals.”

OUTLINE OF OBAMA’S PLAN FOR COMPREHENSIVE IMMIGRATION REFORM

Bring people out of the shadows
America has always been a nation of immigrants. There are millions of people living in the shadows who would like to fully embrace American values and become full members of our democracy. Barack Obama supports a system that allows undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, not violate the law, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.

Remove Incentives to Enter Illegally
To remove incentives to enter the country illegally, there needs to be a crack down on employers that hire undocumented immigrants. Barack Obama has championed a proposal to create a new employment eligibility verification system so employers can verify that their employees are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

Create Secure Borders
To preserve the integrity of our borders, Obama supports additional personnel, infrastructure and technology on the border and at ports of entry. Additional Customs and Border Protection agents should be equipped with better technology and real-time intelligence.

Improvement of the immigration system
The dysfunctional immigration bureaucracy must be fixed to balance the needs of American workers and the U.S. economy and the number of legal immigrants increased in order to keep families together and meet the demand for jobs that employers cannot fill.

Obama joined Rep. Luis Gutierrez to introduce the Citizenship Promotion Act to ensure that immigration application fees are both reasonable and fair, reversing large fee increases for legal immigrants seeking to become citizens and providing grants to states to help promote citizenship.

Obama also introduced legislation that passed the Senate to improve the speed and accuracy of FBI background checks. Many law-abiding legal immigrants see their immigration applications delayed by months and often years as the overwhelmed F.B.I. completes their background checks.

Honour to Immigrant Troops
About 69,300 foreign-born men and women serve in the U.S. armed forces, roughly 5 percent of the total active-duty force. Of those, 43 percent – 29,800 – are not U.S. citizens. The Pentagon says more than 100 immigrant soldiers have died in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Expedited procedures towards citizenship are supported by the new President elect.


Federica Gaida

 

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