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Immigrants await Obama’s reforms

Members of Massachusetts immigrant groups await President Barack Obama’s immigration reform, a topic a number of officials considered overdue.

While the DREAM Act marked one of Obama’s most important steps toward reform, it most recently failed to pass through the Senate in 2010.

Congress has continually debated, updated and revised versions of the act that would have granted citizenship to illegal immigrants who meet certain standards.

Individuals who qualify for citizenship through the act must have entered the country under the age of 16, lived in the U.S. for five continuous years and graduated from a U.S. high school, along with other criteria, according to a document on the White House website.

Although a number of supporters were relieved when Obama announced his plan to halt the deportation of younger undocumented immigrants in June, the president has come under increased criticism for a lack of immigration reform.

Just one week after his reelection, Obama spoke about the necessity to implement new immigration policy.

In his first press conference since reelection on Nov. 14, Obama said “we need to seize the moment” for immigration reform, announcing that he would introduce a bill shortly after his inauguration.

Sandra Yu, Youth Effect leader for the Southeast Asian Coalition of Central Massachusetts, said it is still necessary to be skeptical of any reform, given the previous actions of the Obama administration.

“At the beginning of his previous term he promised to work for serious immigration reform as well,” she said. “It will be crucial to see if he makes more progress this time around.”

Young immigrants who are directly affected by the DREAM Act are contributing the most pressure for Obama’s promise of reform, said Laura González, youth organizer for the Latino immigrant organization Centro Presente.

“There is real possibility that these kids will have an opportunity to become self-sufficient citizens through the military or higher education,” González said. “It would set up a path of improvement in their lives that they would not have gotten in their native countries, which is what they need.”

While the DREAM Act has the support of young immigrants, a number of older people who have come to the U.S. to seek asylum from religious or political persecution look to what the promise of reform can do for them as well.

Abdi Barre, a 24-year-old Somali refugee, escaped from ongoing political tension in his country with his family and came to Boston in 2009, where he worked with the Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center to acclimate to his new community.

Becoming a U.S. citizen is his next goal, he said.

“[Being] a U.S. citizen, I can provide for my family much better,” Barre said. “I want to be able to freely work and vote as a citizen. I believe Obama will be able to make the process better for immigrants in his next years as president.”

Isabelle Abed, Immigration and Displacement volunteer for the Islamic Center of New England,  said immigrants from the Middle East in particular seek refuge in the U.S. for political and religious reasons.

She said Obama’s administration needs to make sure immigration reform is achieved in the next four years.

“These issues of immigration need to be resolved sooner rather than later,” Abed said. “Reforms have been promised in the past and we haven’t really seen any of it put into place.”

Abed said Obama’s plans would make great progress if they were put into action.

“We have to keep working to see these changes through, but I know they can take time,” she said. “It was on the agenda for the last four years, but not much got done. These four years will bring significant improvements though.”


  1. Given the topic of immigrants in recent elections, an interesting new book that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is “What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs Americans who want to learn more about the U.S. and how we compare to other countries around the world on many issues.
    As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in the states of New York, Florida, and New Jersey.
    California and other states are now increasingly devising their own solutions to immigration reform, which has stalled in Washington. A poll shows Californians are overwhelmingly in favor of President Obama’s new program granting work permits and a two-year reprieve from deportation to some young people who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children. Respondents also favor granting driver’s licenses to the same group. It found that most Californians want increased border enforcement and think that local police and sheriffs should have a role in apprehending suspected illegal immigrants. However, Californians seem to be sending a message to the federal government that we should be able to find a solution to this problem, somewhere in between amnesty and deportation.
    Legal immigrants number 850,000 each year; undocumented (illegal) immigrants are estimated to be half that number. They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter identifies “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance, be they in Beantown or Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, concerned Americans and books like this can extend a helping hand, just as Nativee Americans did way back when, resulting in Thanksgiving Day. Happy Turkey Day!

  2. The Social Security number has been around since November 1935, and that flimsy piece of paper hasn’t changed in all that time. For years it’s been used for identification by insurance companies, banks and so much more and never was meant for this reason. Over the last few decades and still surging identity theft, which remains an enigma, because Congress and its anemic policies have done nothing to change the structure? Identity theft encompassed annually hundreds of thousands of victims who must use their precious time trying to sort this fraudulent episode in their life? In most cases their credit is ruined just like mine, because some unprincipled person has managed to steal that archaic number. While away in hospital from my family-based business one of four temporarily graphic artists stole my personal identity after finding in my desk, some unsolicited credit card application, plus bank statements and other information. However, I was extremely lucky and my loss was only $4500 dollars, which could have been far worse, but even so I was hunted down by bill collectors. The tolerant influx of illegal aliens have also taken advantage of unknown numbers of American SSN, to attain jobs but also circumvented security to access welfare payments and a host of other citizen programs. With just a limited amount of personal data, they can apply for driving licenses, insurance and even steal people’s equity in their home.

    Especially hard hit are the elderly, who are not too quick on recognizing that their life saving or credit has been stolen. A whole new empire of companies has risen to safeguard our identities and our credit, but even that unfortunately it is limited. Newspaper headlines have been sweeping around us for years, claiming data bases being accessed by criminals and even banks and corporations. It is time for this government to take the initiative a make our social security numbers infallible, by simply adding an individual’s thumbprint. MAY BE NO PICTUREIS NEEDED? The card would have a digital thumbprint that could be recognized almost immediately, as the actual person who carries that card? This electronic identity card would probably look like a regular bank card with embossed printed identity information including a social security number on the surface and an embedded microchip. That electronic chip would contain the fingerprint and even a retinal scan. The card would have to be attained by all U.S. citizens and legalized immigrants. In fact while we about it, instead of having the Social Security Administration oversee this problem, have an outside entity such as Visa or Master Card create it, just as the three main credit bureaus maintain our credit worthiness? This mechanism could also be used to check the authorization of all working Americans, real citizen voters instead of just the government E-Verify authorization..

    Since there is so much controversy about the Homeland Security and Social Security database E-Verify, then why not contract large companies as Visa or Master Card to revisit E-Verify and re-engineer it, May be a commercial concern can do a better job than government and synchronize it, with the Social Security number? An ID card that can be slide through a digital machine, recognizing that person’s thumbprint and carried by every American, could be applied in buying a car; a house and even detect unauthorized job seekers. Such a revolutionary innovation would cost several billion dollars to cover every entitled American and save unknown numbers of credit worthy people, but over time would save companies astronomical dollars in theft.. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) passionately supports in adding a biometric identifier to the federal E-Verify employment eligibility approval system, which is initially setting the stage for the impending massive federal biometric operation. E-Verify that is also a section of “THE LEGAL WORKFORCE ACT” could use this system and prevent illegal workers from taking anymore American jobs.

    Without more ado we must press Washington for an amendment into the 14th Amendment, which is a sound argument to stop pregnant females from illegally entering America, therefore claiming citizenship for a child. Not only do YOU pay for all the amenities of deliveries, but you pay for manufactured citizenship of a child and everything from then on is on a birthright or naturalized citizens back of paying the bills and even Green Card Holders are not exempt.

    We must prevent this from occurring anymore by adopting the “BIRTHRIGHT CITIZENSHIP BILL” that both parties have ignored and refused to place this bill to be read on the House chamber. It stops the accommodation of illegal alien females from their kids getting instantaneous citizenship, by making it mandatory that one parent must be a citizen. Well it’s up to the American people now whether to keep this insanity continuing and taxpayers covering the expenses for these children, or demand from the Congress a change in the law. These children given citizenship are a stepping stone for their parents, to collect even more welfare. The more children they conceive, the less chance it is for the parents to be deported. In fact the more children mean extra welfare payments and additionally a carefully planned access to free housing—government sponsored. We can fix this nonsensical law and the hundreds of billions of dollars, which should not be diverted from going to our own impoverished, homeless and sick. THESE ILLEGAL ALIENS COME HERE WITHOUT EVER PAYING TAXES, SOCIAL SECURITY, FICA OR OTHER FORM OF TAXES, OUR GOVERNMENT ALLOWS THEM TO STEAL OUR SAFETY-NET AND REAP THE BENEFITS.

    . If the taxpaying populace ever realized that the common denominator for the DREAM ACT AS IMPOSED BY PRESIDENT OBAMA, was because of the illicit original introduction into our country from wherever they came, were decades illegal children or the unborn smuggled into our country.