A change we've hoped for?
By John Newton
February is the month for lovers... all kinds of lovers. Officially it's library lover's month, potato lover's month, and chocolate lover's month as well. Of course, it's also the month when people celebrate their love for each other on Valentine's day.
One love story I hope you'll find appropriate for this issue is the story of Jeresia Noris and her husband, Jose Luis Noris, an undocumented immigrant currently contesting a deportation order from the US Department of Homeland Security.
Like many other immigrants, Luis came here many years ago looking for a chance to better himself. His first wife, a US citizen, filed paperwork on his behalf that resulted in a full-fledged social security number that allowed Luis to obtain a valid driver's license. Those documents gave him a clear conscience as well as the ability to get a good job working in construction on US military bases.
Apparently, a government clerk checked the wrong box during Luis's application process. But by the time the Department of Homeland Security realized its mistake and adjusted his status to 'unauthorized', the Mexican national had remarried and was the father of two little US citizens.
During his first three years in office, President Obama deported a record number of undocumented immigrants and did nothing to advance the cause of comprehensive immigration reform. But he has certainly made up for lost time during the past six months, beginning with a memorandum issued last summer by ICE Director, John Morton, that promised to refocus his agency's deportation efforts away from those whose only crime was unauthorized presence in the US.
The Obama administration then announced it would do a case-by-case review of deportations, allowing many undocumented immigrants without criminal records to apply for work permits and stay in the United States indefinitely.This policy basically removes some low-priority cases from the backlogs by administratively closing them.
As a result, thousands of illegal immigrants facing deportation could have have their cases closed, although they would likely be reopened if the immigrant is rearrested. These people could remain in the U.S. indefinitely, although still without legal status. Some who have their cases closed could receive permission to work, but only if they can show they are eligible to apply for legal status, for example, because they have lived in the U.S. for more than 10 years or can show they have U.S.-citizen children who would suffer unnecessarily if the undocumented-immigrant parent were deported.
In December, prosecutors began systematically reviewing each of the nearly 300,000 deportation cases pending in the nation’s 58 immigration courts. In general, those who have the best chance of having their cases closed are those undocumented immigrants who are students, those who have lived in the United States for a long time, those with no criminal record, those who have U.S.-citizen children or those who came to this country when they were children.
You can read part one of Luis and Jeresia Noris story beginning on page 14. You can also sign a petition in support of their efforts by entering Jeresia's name in the facebook search box
Now that Republican candidates for the US Presidency have apparently been narrowed down to just two choices, and President Obama has laid out some of his second-term goals, we offer a quick quiz to see which candidate supporters of comprehensive immigration reform are likely to vote for:
Republican Mitt Romney has said he would veto the DREAM Act and says that all undocumented immigrants should self-deport.
Republican Newt Gingrich embraces a watered-down version of the DREAM Act saying “Young non-citizens who came to the United States outside the law should have the same right to join the military and earn citizenship.” Gingrich has spoken out in favor of an expanded guest worker program and he also wants to create a path to earned legality for some of the millions of people who are here outside the law.
Democrat President Barack Obama emphasized his continued support for the DREAM Act during his 'State of the Union' speech last week: “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."
Don't answer too quickly. Remember that most politicians will say anything to get elected so vote accordingly!