June 25, 2012 issue
Just as President Obama was making a huge announcement on Friday, I was pulling out the latest issue of Time from my mailbox. This was a pretty big weekend for young undocumented immigrants in the U.S as the government will no longer deport young people under the age of 30 who came into this country before the age of 16, been here five consecutive years, have received a high school diploma or GED or served in the military and have no criminal record. There are about 800,000 people who meet this criteria; but it’s important to understand that although they won’t be deported, there is still a rough road ahead of them to become U.S. citizens.
I never write about politics or discuss it much outside my home but I really wanted to be part of this discussion by providing some information that I myself wasn’t completely sure about. Friday was a historic event that affects people in our everyday lives. It affects families, many who have at least one undocumented person in their family and who worry about being split up one day. It’s also important for people who don’t know how hard it is to live in fear, who say, “send them home”, and accuse of undocumented immigrants of taking jobs away from citizens and using up government resources to understand a few facts. I wanted to share a bit from the article, “Not Legal Not Leaving”, in this current issue of Time.
1) 11.5 million people live in this country with undocumented status. The author of the article, Jose Antonio Vargas, is one of them. His mother sent him from the Philippines when he was 12 to live with his grandparents who were naturalized citizens but couldn’t do anything to help him obtain legal status. Vargas went on to college, became a journalist, worked for the Washington Post and “came out” publicly in an essay for the New York Times last June. He obviously feared of being deported but felt the need to share his story. Since the article was published last year, Vargas has never been apprehended by the government.
2. Nevada is the state with the highest percentage of undocumented people: 7.2%
3. “The IRS doesn’t care if I am here legally; it cares about its money.” $11.2 billion in state and local taxes were paid by households led by undocumented workers in 2010.
4. Illegal border crossings are at the lowest since the Nixon era.
5. 86% of undocumented workers have been living in the United States for seven years or longer.
6. Undocumented immigrants filled 5.2% of the workforce in the U.S. in 2010.
7. Not all undocumented workers are from Mexico. Only 59% of undocumented immigrants are from Mexico.
8. Obama has deported 1.2 million people since becoming president. George W. Bush deported 1.6 million in 8 years.
9. It is very difficult to become deported if you are an abiding “citizen” and have never been arrested.
10. It is very difficult to become a U.S. citizen unless you were born here. Take a look at the diagram below and see how hard it is to obtain a green card.
Is Obama on the right track with immigration reform? Do you think that if he is re-elected there is more good news on the way for undocumented immigrants? Would love to hear your thoughts!