Obama Ending 2014 Strong With Immigration

Clara Chin, Staff Writer

As Barack Obama’s presidency draws to a close, the Democratic party is striving to make the most out of his final term in office.

One of the most significant actions President Obama has taken so far is his immigration policy. On November 20th, President Obama issued an executive order that would shield 4 million illegal immigrants from deportation.

Here are the four basic elements of the order:

  • Providing a legal pathway for previously illegal immigrants to “come out of the shadows” (Obama) and earn citizenship
  • Cracking down on business owners who knowingly hire illegal immigrants
  • Increasing the number of border patrol officials
  • Helping foreign entrepreneurs and students become U.S. citizens

In general, the response to the new immigration policy was mixed, receiving criticism from both parties. Some people argued it was too strict, while others argued it was not strict enough. Here’s what West High Students Richie Fall (12), Adel Kelifa (12), Abby Klein (10), and Ivan Zermeno (12) thought.

Issue 1: The executive order itself is at question. 17 states are filing a lawsuit against Obama. Was the order within President Obama’s power?

Yes: Klein and Kelifa thought President Obama was acting within his constitutional powers.

No: Zermeno and Fall both thought President Obama’s executive order was outside his power.

Issue 2: The number of Border Patrol Agents was 21,391 in 2013, compared to 4,139 in 1992, so President Obama’s decision to increase agents is not necessarily a surprise. Nevertheless, the number of agents has stayed in the 21,000 range since 2011, so in short terms, this could be a big change. Is this a good change?

Yes: “I think, in general, it’s a good thing to have the borders strengthened. For the US it would improve infrastructure at ports of entry, fewer people would illegally pass the border, and human smuggling as well as other awful things could be reduced,” said Klein.

Maybe: “If the current border patrol officials are lacking in their ability to patrol the entire border, then the additional help should be welcome. However, if they are sufficient…the decision…should be deemed unnecessary,” said Kelifa. While Kelifa believes the stronger borders could be a good thing, his views are conditional.

Issue 3: Is the executive order good for the economy?

Yes: “Immigrants start small businesses which create jobs for American workers, and the demand for local consumer goods is boosted,” said Klein. In fact, immigrants are about 30% more likely to start new businesses than are natural born U.S. citizens, according to Businessweek. Plus, they will contribute to the economy by paying taxes.

No:  “I’m pretty sure it would take off in a bit but for the time being it would be a setback,” said Zermeno. Zermeno believes the executive order requires time in order to have a positive impact on the economy.

Issue 4: Is the immigration process too difficult?

Yes: “Some of the questions that potential citizens are quizzed on can not even be answered correctly by large number of current citizens…[this] seems to be a bit unfair to me,” said Kelifa.

Maybe: “I feel like they shouldn’t be here in the first place, but I think everyone should get a chance to live the American dream. If someone’s going to be here for five years, they must want to be here,” said Fall.