Friday, August 17, 2012

Young people flocking to show desire to be American citizens

Yesterday thousands of young people applied for a two year freedom from deportation. They were responding on the first day to a new program created by the Obama administration.

Basically, the administration has said that the Congress has not authorized enough budget to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to find, process and deport a major portion of the illegal immigrants currently in the United States, so it is not giving priority to a class of those immigrants who are not a threat.

The young people in question were brought to the United States by their parents before the age of 16, so they have no culpability themselves for illegal immigration. They will have been in the United States for at least five years. They will not have a criminal record. And they will have a U.S. high school diploma or have served in the military. The young people who apply will pay for the processing of their application, so this is a budget neutral decision. Qualifying young people will be given a two year guarantee of safety from deportation; if the Congress passes new immigration legislation in that period, of course the young people will be subject to that legislation.

In so far as the young people are serving the United States in the military, or who have done so and received an honorable discharge, I would grant them immediate citizenship. If they volunteer to put their lives on the line for the nation, they deserve citizenship. Certainly they do not deserve deportation.

Think about a typical young person who was brought to this country by his parents at age 10, 8 or 10 years ago, who has completed high school here. Almost all that he can remember occurred here. His friends are here. He is unlikely to know how to live successfully in the home country of his parents. Without the new program, he is unlikely to be able to get further education or training, and unlikely to get a good job. DHS papers guaranteeing two years here should allow him to get on with his life. Deportation would be a great hardship. I think the new program is morally right!

I find the action of the Obama administration to help these young people now to be timely, late if anything. The only immorality involved is the effort of some Republican politicians to unjustly criticize the action in their attempt to obtain political advantage by appealing to the most bigoted among us.

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