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Obama's new program for young illegal immigrants: How is it going?

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"It makes me a bit nervous because the economy is in such a bad situation right now that I don't even know if I'd be able to get a job when I graduate," says Ms. Carlson, who is studying business and politics and is a vice president of the UMD College Republicans. "I think preference should be given to US citizens first before we give [illegal immigrants] an advantage when it comes to entering the workforce."

For proponents, DACA is a common-sense way to remove the fear of deportation for young people who came here through no choice of their own and essentially feel American. It's also a watershed victory that encourages them to push a broader agenda.

For opponents, it's a type of "amnesty" – akin to hanging a big welcome sign at the border and undermining the basic rule of law.

The debate shows once again how divided Congress has been on immigration issues. An operational memo from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano set up DACA after Congress, in 2010, defeated the DREAM Act – legislation that would create a pathway to citizenship for young people who were brought here at a young age and pursued an education or joined the military.

Now the November elections could be key to what happens next. If Democrats gain seats in the House and retain control of the Senate and the presidency, the prospects for comprehensive immigration reform – which lawmakers attempted but failed to accomplish in the mid-2000s – are much greater. But if Republicans retain the House or if Mitt Romney becomes president, "it's hard to say where this will come out," says Robert Pastor, a professor of international relations at American University in Washington.

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