We are close to making immigration reform a reality. President Obama unveiled a proposal that will allow most of the over 11 million undocumented workers living in the US to come out of the shadows and fulfill their dreams of becoming American citizens.
Part of the reason that immigration reform has been difficult to achieve is because the general public has no idea just how hard it is to come here legally. Immigrating to the United States is not like getting on the waiting list for Houston Texans season tickets; one must generally be petitioned to come here by a citizen/permanent resident family member or by an American employer. Most people have neither.
President Obama’s plan proposal has major support on both sides of the aisle, including that of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. The proposal provides a legal way for currently undocumented workers to obtain provisional legal status, during which they must pay taxes, learn English and civics, and stay out of legal trouble. They will not be eligible to receive federal benefits during this time. After a few years, these now-legal immigrants will be able to obtain legal permanent residency, aka a “green card,” which then allows them to apply for citizenship after five years. The proposal also includes the same objectives of the DREAM Act, which establishes an expedited path to citizenship for undocumented children brought here through no fault of their own, provided they pursue a college degree or serve in the Armed Forces.
The proposal also contains provisions that make it easier for our universities and businesses to attract and hire the brightest minds in the world, particularly in the fields of math and science. America’s greatest asset is and always will be its people, and there is no reason we should be turning away the best the world has to offer. Other countries should not get to benefit due to our broken immigration system.
Finally, immigration is what this country has always been about. We cannot afford to turn our backs on what has made us so great.