Almost 2 million young illegal immigrants across the country are getting ready to apply for temporary reprieve from deportation as a part of Obama’s new immigration initiative announced in June. This federal program that will be accepting applications starting today will allow young undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. temporarily so long as they show that they are currently enrolled in a public or private school or have graduated from high school or have a GED. Under the program, only undocumented immigrants under the age of 31 who came to the U.S. when they were under 16 are eligible to apply. They will not be required, however, to undergo personal interviews. This will also allow temporary work permits for these young immigrants.
I have many concerns about this new initiative. Mainly the talk now is about fraudulent applications and how this will seriously hinder any future plans for a more permanent solution. Republicans criticize this new initiative as a "back-door amnesty."However, it is important to understand that this is only temporary. It's not amnesty, it's only a bite of the apple. It's only a work permit and the promise that they will not be deported for two years. While it is a great thing for young people who are trying to make it in the United States, I am extremely concerned about what happens after all is said and done. I should have prefaced all of this by saying that I fully support President Obama, but what’s going to happen if he doesn’t win the election in November? This reprieve goes into effect pretty quickly now but it is only temporary. It’s not really a solution, but something that will delay any kind of long-term efforts to resolve the issue.
Let’s not pretend here that this is not a way for Obama to win the Latino vote in November—at the very least someone’s paying attention to us—but should we really be satisfied with that? As far as this new initiative goes, I’m struggling to answer a few questions: Why did it take so long for President Obama to do something for us Latinos? What’s going to happen if President Obama does not win for a second term? What’s the plan? What happens once it expires after two years? I mean, yes we’re making strides, but what the United States needs is a long-term plan, not a band-aid for a bullet wound. This is all very vague.
There must be a change, the change that President Obama talked about four years ago when I was at the polls voting for him. I’m talking about a significant change for Latinos. I want to vote for a president that I can believe in, with a track record, one that shows that he really cares about the issue. I don’t want to be voting for a president because there's no other alternative. As Latinos, it's imperative for us to get out there this November and vote. And once President Obama is in office again, we need to demand more. Always demand more.