Currently, there are about eleven million undocumented immigrants living in the economic, social and political shadows of the United States. Indeed, in President Barack Obama’s speech, he recognized that those immigrants are woven into the very fabric of our nation, and their presence, whether we’d like to admit or not, directly influences our lives (President Obama’s Immigration Reform Speech).
Common sense, comprehensive immigration reform. That is what Obama has promised to deliver with his proposed immigration policies. Specifically, the three issues he is targeting are border security, enforcement of unlawful practices practiced by industries and employers, and a pathway to “earned” citizenship for the undocumented.
However, there remain unanswered questions in his proposed policies. For instance, regarding the pathway to citizenship, Obama has revealed that this would involve a background check, paying taxes, a penalty for being in the United States, learning English, and going to the “back of the line.” However, once undocumented immigrants begin this process how long will this take and what are the risks that follow? Furthermore, what will happen to the millions of people during this process- will their jobs be detained? Considering that one of his three focuses is cracking down on unlawful employment practices how will undocumented immigrants expect to make a living? Additionally, what will happen to those who can’t afford to pay the penalty and/or taxes simply because they’re economically disadvantaged? Here, we must wait for Congress and the Senate to fill in the gaps to Obama’s outline on immigration reform.
Lastly, before we allow the undocumented to come out from the shadows we must consider who would be affected. The Immigration Policy Center has found that about 4.5 million US born children have at least one “unauthorized parent” living in the their household. Additionally, more than half of undocumented immigrants have lived in the United States for more than a decade and are spread out throughout California, Texas, Florida, and New York, which implicates the major degree of impact they have on influential states (A Portrait of the 11 Million Unauthorized Immigrants). Essentially, taking these facts into mind, the reform Obama proposed should make us critical of the political, social and economic outcomes that can arise once his policies are implemented.