Tag Archives: Obama de facto DREAM act

News and Commentary on Obama’s Immigration Move

Some of the news coverage on Obama’s new immigration stance:


In an election-year policy change, the Obama administration said Friday it will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements…

Those who might benefit from the change expressed joy and relief, with celebratory demonstrations forming outside the White House and elsewhere.

Pedro Ramirez, a student who has campaigned for such a move, said he was “definitely speechless,” then added: “It’s great news.” Continue reading News and Commentary on Obama’s Immigration Move

Obama’s Tepid and Temporary Immigration “Reform”

The post was originally published at the Huffington Post blog here and is reproduced with permission from the author.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) just released a memo outlining a temporary relaxation in prosecutorial discretion to allow unauthorized immigrants who came here when they were under the age of 16, to get a temporary two year (possibly renewable) work visa. This proposal is a truncated version of Senator Marco Rubio’s (R-FL) recent proposal and another older law called the DREAM Act. This temporary version of the DREAM Act offers a glimpse of the benefits of the real one.

Under the proposal, unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States when they were younger than 16, have lived here for 5 years, are in school or have graduated from high-school or are honorably discharged from U.S. Armed Forces, who are not criminals, and who are currently under younger than 30 can stay and receive a two year temporary work permit that can be renewed. That’s it.

The government already has legal authority to grant something called “deferred action” to unauthorized immigrants. That basically means the government will choose not deport them and instead focus on criminals or other deportation priorities. Those immigrants are then allowed, under current law, to get a temporary work permit if they show “an economic necessity for employment.”

Most unauthorized immigrants who could be legalized by Obama’s memo would meet the “economic necessity” qualifications for a temporary work permit.

Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) has already said he will sue the Obama administration to stop this memo from going into effect but his success is uncertain. Rubio rightly called the measure “a short-term answer to a long-term problem” but continues by saying that it “will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term [solution].”

Since taking office, Obama’s DHS has deported over 1.2 million people in a frenzy of government immigration enforcement not seen since the 1950s. Last year his administration promised to use prosecutorial discretion to stop prosecuting those who had strong American family ties and no criminal records. Since that policy went into effect in November 2011, DHS officials have reviewed more than 411,000 cases but closed less than 2 percent of them.

Immigration enforcement officers referred to that administrative order as “a joke” which barely impacted government policy toward deportations. This year’s change could be very different.

If applied as broadly as the DREAM Act, somewhere between 800,000 and 2.1 million unauthorized immigrants could gain a temporary work permit through the administration’s actions.

Only a fraction of the economic benefits of the proposed DREAM Act will be reaped by the memo’s policy change. Political scientist Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda estimated that an amnesty similar to 1986 would yield at least an added $1.5 trillion to GDP over a single decade. If the maximum of 2.1 million eligible unauthorized immigrants are legalized under the Dream Act, we would gain at least $250 billion in additional production over the next decade by a rough estimate.

A temporary two years deferment with uncertain renewals will yield benefits that are miniscule compared to what they would be under legalization.

This temporary reprieve should also have a very minimal impact on the welfare state and other government services because they are limited to those with work permits. But even if they were granted permanent resident status tomorrow, it would still be five years before they were eligible for any kind of major government assistance. In any case, immigrants use less welfare and government assistance than Americans with similar incomes.

Our government’s restrictive immigration policies fly in the face of economic reality. Most immigrants who want to come to the U.S. are denied by our immigration regulations. But just because our law doesn’t adapt to supply and demand doesn’t mean people remain idle when confronted with poverty in their home countries. A predictable outcome of immigration restrictions is that immigrants will come without authorization and Americans will want to work with them, employ them, and sell to them.

The sad situation that so many unauthorized children face, being born in another country but raised American, can only be permanently resolved with immigration reform that vastly diminishes the government’s role in regulating, limiting, and controlling immigration.

Unauthorized immigrants brought here as young children are attached to this country and our society. Many of them don’t even remember the land they were born in. It’s about time the government gets out of the way, even if it’s temporarily, and allows industrious, peaceful, and otherwise law-abiding unauthorized immigrants to not fear deportation. The next step should be real immigration reform.

Obama Promises a Reprieve for DREAMers

Barack Obama has been a terrible president for immigrants. He has been deporting people at record rates. He seems to exploit the issue politically in the most cynical way. What he says about immigration isn’t too bad, however. Here’s his speech today:

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody.

This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient and more just, specifically for certain young people sometimes called DREAMers.

Now, these are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license or a college scholarship.

Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life, studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.

Exactly. Of course, one may ask why these particular details are so important. Yes, it’s absurd to deport someone to a country they know nothing about, but it’s almost as bad to deport them to a country they had good reasons– economic hopelessness, political oppression, etc.– for wanting to leave. Yes, DREAMers have friends, have pledged allegiance to the flag, may have worked hard– but plenty of non-DREAMer illegal immigrants also have friends here, have worked (very) hard, and would be glad to take an oath of allegiance if we’d let them. Still, the DREAMers are a kind of wedge in the door, morally speaking. Continue reading Obama Promises a Reprieve for DREAMers

Obama Administration Adopts De Facto Dream Act

The post was originally published at the Cato@Liberty blog here and is reproduced with permission from the author.

Two senior Obama administration officials told the Associated Press that the administration will enforce many of the major portions of the Dream Act using the president’s administrative discretion to defer deportation actions. According to a memo released by the Department of Homeland Security this morning, the plan would apply to unauthorized immigrants who:

  • Came to the United States under the age of 16.
  • Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of the memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of the memorandum.
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety.
  • Are not above the age of 30.

If the above plan is implemented fully, between 800,000 and 2.1 million unauthorized immigrants could be legalized for up to two years. By being legalized they will become more productive, earn higher wages, and more fully assimilate into American society. But this is only a temporary fix.

Temporary work permits can be issued to unauthorized immigrants who have their deportations deferred but in this situation they would only last 2 years. It’s a routine administrative procedure that already occurs for unauthorized immigrants who have their deportations deferred. This is one situation where the complexity of our immigration rules and regulations works to the advantage of immigrants and Americans.

A permanent version of this action in the form of the admittedly imperfect Dream Act would need to be passed to reap the full rewards.

The benefits from passing the Dream Act are enormous. Evidence from the 1986 amnesty showed that the legalized immigrants experienced a 15.1 percent increase in their earnings by 1992, with roughly 6 to 13 percentage points due to the legalization.

In the Winter 2012 issue of The Cato Journal, Raul Hinojosa-Ojeda estimated that an amnesty similar to 1986 would yield at least an added $1.5 trillion to GDP over a single decade. If 2.1 million eligible unauthorized immigrants were permanently legalized, that would be at least $250 billion in additional production over the next decade (back of the envelope calculation).

However, before we get too thrilled about the prospects of this sorely needed temporary liberalization, we should remember that hardly anything changed the last time the Obama administration used its prosecutorial discretion to review deportation cases. His administration promised to wade through backlogged cases and close those where the unauthorized immigrants had strong American family ties and no criminal records. Since that policy went into effect in November 2011, DHS officials have reviewed more than 411,000 cases and less than 2 percent of them were closed.

If the administration’s proposal temporarily goes as far as the Dream Act would, it will shrink the informal economy, increase economic efficiency, and remove the fear and uncertainty of deportation from potentially millions of otherwise law-abiding people. It would be a good first step toward reforming immigration and a glimpse at what the Dream Act would do.