President Obama Announces Executive Action on Immigration: Social and Economic Implications

President Obama announced significant reforms to overhaul the nation’s immigration system. Obama will not grant amnesty to millions of undocumented immigrants. Instead, Obama’s executive action on immigration includes providing temporary protections for millions of undocumented immigrants. These protections will allow certain undocumented immigrants to remain and work in the United States, while also receiving federal benefits, such as healthcare.

Obama’s Immigration Reform Plan

Addressing the U.S. public in a nationally televised address, President Obama announced that he will take executive action on immigration reform. Some of Obama’s reform measures will be implemented immediately, while other parts of his plan will take longer. Most importantly, Obama is granting temporary legal status and providing work permits to nearly five million undocumented immigrants.

Under the plan, certain parents of U.S. citizens will qualify for deferred action and will receive a new legal status. To qualify the parent must have been living in the United States for at least five years, must pay back taxes, and must pass a criminal background check. While these parents will not be able to file an application for relief for six months, the benefits will be immediate. This means more than four million parents of son or a daughter who is a U.S. citizen do not need to live in fear of deportation and can continue being productive members of society.

In addition, Obama’s immigration reform includes providing temporary status to several hundred thousand children who did not qualify for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program enacted in 2012. Notably, Obama’s plan does not include extending legal status protection to parents of undocumented immigrant children who qualified for DACA.

President Obama formally took action to initiate his immigration reform plan at an event in Las Vegas on November 21st, 2014.

Social and Economic Benefits of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

In 2012, President Obama approved Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that allowed certain unauthorized young immigrants brought into the United States to be considered for “relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.” Young people who qualify for the program are eligible for an Employment Authorization Document to allow them to work lawfully in the United States. Under Obama’s recently announced immigration reform, the DACA, which provides temporary legal status, will be reviewed every three years.

At the time the program was announced, it was estimated that the 1.4 million children and young adults might benefit from the program. According to the American Immigration Council, the deferred action program provides significant economic and social benefits for this segment of society to improve their lives and to contribute to the U.S. economy.

First, the Council believes that the deferred action initiative allows beneficiaries to increase their standard of living by being able to lawfully work in the United States and have access to better educational opportunities. In turn, this will help state and federal governments through increased tax contributions. Furthermore, it is expected that the dropout rate for immigrant students will decrease because of the increased economic and social opportunities that are available to them.

Second, the Council believes that the deferred action program will not harm U.S.-born workers. The Council supports its argument by pointing out the fact that there are not high unemployment rates for native-born workers in parts of the countries with the largest number of immigrants. The reason is that immigrants do not normally compete with natives for the same jobs, based on their different education and experience levels.

Third, the Council also believes that the deferred action initiative will encourage economic growth. According to several reports, immigrants are more likely to start their own businesses; immigrant workers spend their wages in U.S. businesses; and immigrants fuel technological and scientific innovation.

Many of the economic and social benefits that are realized through DACA for young children would also apply if the program expands to older individuals, including parents of U.S. citizens and green card holders. It remains to be seen, however, whether Obama’s immigration reform will include a similar deferred action program for adults.

Contact a San Antonio Immigration Lawyer

The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC is a full-service immigration law firm with experienced Texas immigration attorneys who can help you and your family with all of your immigration needs. If you have any immigration questions or concerns, consult an experienced Texas immigration attorney at The Lozano Law Firm, PLLC. Our firm has offices located in San Antonio and San Angelo. Call (210) 932-3600 for assistance in San Antonio or 325-227-6736 for our San Angelo office.

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