I have been recently asked whether this new Deferred Action Policy for undocumented young immigrants will financially help immigration lawyers, and the short answer is that it may or it may not, but this is just an analogous criticism that is being lodged at President Obama. His “political motivation” in approving the Deferred Action Policy for young people is all what conservatives will talk about in condemning Obama for directing this policy. While I admit that usually any new immigration laws that help people also help our immigration practices, this isn’t the only reason why most immigration lawyers are in favor of it, (believe me, as a solo immigration practitioner, not me nor any of my colleagues is expecting to become millionaires anytime soon serving a clientele with an average income that is below the poverty line). I also don’t think that political advantage is the only end game for the President.

President Obama ordered an action that will benefit him politically, but there is clearly a moral issue that many people think overrides any suggestion that the president and others speaking in favor of this policy are speaking in entirely in their own self interest. The policy is aimed at finally assisting certain people who most of us all know and who we think are just Americans, but who are often technically not. They speak like Americans, they dress like Americans, they attend school like Americans, but the only difference is that their parents brought them here illegally when they were young and rendered their status undocumented. They couldn’t do anything about it then, and they can’t do anything about it now. Like in many other immigration offices throughout the country, I see these young people on a weekly basis. It’s probably the saddest thing about any immigration practitioner’s job right now. They are kids who have lived nowhere else their entire lives but the United States. Some go to college, most of them pay taxes, most of them are trying to get by with a high school diploma, but without a driver’s license, without a social security number, and without a bank account. Some do not even know that they were brought in illegally as young children until they graduate high school and look for a job. They come into my office assuming I can do something for them, because surely the U.S. wouldn’t penalize someone for the actions of their parents? But for the past 10 years, I have had to tell the majority of these individuals that there is nothing that I can do because the current law does exactly

that.

The people this Deferred Action benefits are the sons and daughters of people who wash dishes and bus the tables in the restaurants we eat at, and who clean the toilets and sinks in the buildings where we work and other public places that we frequent. They pick the fruits and vegetables in the farms that grow our food. They are the people who we’ve trusted to provide care for our elderly and our children. They are the sons and daughters of people willing to work the jobs that no one else wants for a wage that no American will accept. Their parents came here illegally because they were desperate, and because American employers told them they had jobs for them. They are the undocumented workforce. I have heard restaurateurs and farmers themselves refer to it as the sector of “modern slavery”. They take the jobs that no one else will accept and for a far lesser wage because they have no choice. Social and fiscal conservatives prefer that we keep living under this policy taking the same advantage of their children. We have lived off the backs of these undocumented immigrants for decades. The very least we should do is give their children the opportunities their parents sacrificed for. Whether the policy benefits the president politically or immigration practitioners like me financially, it is still the RIGHT THING TO DO.

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