Thursday, July 1, 2010

Obama's Speech on Immigration Reform

Obama's Speech on Immigration Reform

Today, President Obama addressed American University and the nation on the topic of Immigration Reform. In his 35min long speech, the President covered a lot of old ground, offered very little new information to the masses and no real solutions.

It was nice to hear him cover the necessity and history of immigrant waives. It was nice for him to show gratitude to the hundreds and thousands of immigrants who have done something to shape this country. He briefly covered the SB1070 law in Arizona, the DREAM Act, and of course negated amnesty as a possible solution. Overall, it was “nice” speech. Yet in this “nice” speech he covered no real ground and provided no substantive solutions to the issue of immigration.
President Obama talked about the struggles that immigrants have when applying for legal status and how even that process is broken. He mentioned that closing off our borders completely was also not option.

There’s an argument that as a nation we need to secure our borders and increase vigilance in the southwest yet Obama stated that there are “more boots on the ground” in the southwest border than ever; personnel along the border has been doubled and the number of intelligence analysts has tripled. Obama’s immigration plan calls for $600 million, 1,000 agents, 7 gunrunner teams, 5 FBI tasks forces, and more prosecutors and immigration judges. Having dealt with the immigration legal process myself, I do understand that more immigration judges are needed to speed up the process for those waiting to have their cases heard but overall, what do these random facts do for undocumented individuals? They provide hope that a solution is pending but no real answer as to what type of reform they should expect.

I am glad to know that President Obama is taking this issue seriously by speaking about it and not being shy to really address what is needed. Yet I struggle with the fact that every time a President addresses such a sensitive and important issue their stance and potential solutions are never directly covered.

The DREAM Act is one solution that would help so many young people around the country pursue their dreams of getting a higher education. It would allow them to really reach their full potential in this country. Many of the youth that YMC works with would be able to made post high school education an option. Yes, Obama restated his support for the DREAM Act yet offered no comprehensive solution.

It is a fact that many political candidates stray away from such sensitive issues like immigration because of the repercussions that come along with it. Like past presidents, Obama said that undocumented individuals living in this country need to register and say they broke the law, pay taxes and fines, learn English, and “be right with the law before they get in line.” What this statement entails is that these individuals pay hefty fines and legal fees to get their legal process started, not considering the fact that many are paid below minimum wage and already struggle to make ends meet.

Overall, his speech was informative to those who may not know random facts about past immigrant waives and the current immigration issue. Obama said he is “ready” to do something about it, and although I am glad to hear that, our people have BEEN ready for years.


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