On Tuesday (24 th January, 2012) night, President Barack Obama delivered this year’s ‘State of the Union’ address to a joint-session of the Congress. Amongst many other issues touched upon by him, he touched upon issues related to Immigration, laws related to it and the present structure of Immigration laws that need re-defining and made more people friendly. In his speech the president says:
“Let’s also remember that hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else.
That doesn’t make sense.
I believe as strongly as ever that we should take on illegal immigration. That’s why my Administration has put more boots on the border than ever before. That’s why there are fewer illegal crossings than when I took office.
The opponents of action are out of excuses. We should be working on comprehensive immigration reform right now. But if election-year politics keeps Congress from acting on a comprehensive plan, let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and defend this country. Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away.”
Thought the president’s speeches in the past and his stand at working towards better Immigration policies have been known and appreciated by the Immigrant community, yet his speech on Tuesday reiterated nothing that was new and nothing that had not been heard before. Thousands of Immigrants from South East Asia till date face the same problems that they did years ago, when Obama first reiterated his stand on Immigration. Yes some steps might have been taken in the right direction to ease the pain of these Immigrants, but by and large the situation remains the same.
The feeling of not being taken into consideration by the South East Asian community, including Indians, Philipinos, Chinese, etc are at an all time high. It is common knowledge that immigrants/ illegal immigrants, contribute and do the kind of work that most legalized Americans or naturalized Americans don’t, whether it is because of pride in what was pre-recession or the capacity for not being able to do so. And yet in spite of doing such odd jobs and bringing in entrepreneurship and helping in creating jobs, these migrants are not given the dignity that they deserve. Most immigrants want to do jobs but they do not qualify because of the never ending process of immigration and delays in citizenship process. As result of there is constant fear and humiliation and separation of families of the immigrants. It is time that the Government realizes that Immigrants from South East Asia have strong work ethics and in their own ways they contribute a lot to the economy than someone who might be living their life on Government support.
While President Obama restated his support for the legalization of undocumented youth and claims to support change, yet his policies on Immigration are tougher than that seen in any other American President’s. In a part of his speech where he seemed to be rebuking the Congress for not working on more comprehensive immigration reforms, his vague solution of “Let’s at least agree to stop expelling responsible young people.” Fails to address issues in reality where the administration is still deporting immigrant youth.
President Obama’s speech full of contradictions between rhetoric and reality comes as a sad reality for Immigrants from India and other South East regions, which have seen the president’s approach, in the last three years of trying to criminalize immigrants while at the same time suggesting their legalization. The Immigrant community is still left with million deportations over 11 million undocumented Americans-in-waiting, with their lives hanging in a precarious balance.
In short the ‘State of Union speech’ is nothing that the Immigrant community has not heard before, nor is it really positive about forthcoming change. More so because overhauling immigration was one of President Obama’s top priorities, when he arrived in the White House, but nothing has really changed in a major way. As such the Immigrant community especially from South East Asia wonders if the mentioning of Immigration is yet another campaign issue, or can one be optimistic and hope that things will be better.
At Shah Peerally Law firm we reiterate our commitment to helping the Immigrant community from South East Asia and elsewhere in handling such issues. If you have any queries that you would like to approach us with or discuss, do call us: (510) 742-5887 OR send us an Email: firstname.lastname@example.org