A couple of days ago, President Obama announced a new policy the government will be taking toward young immigrants who came to America as children. The new policy says that those immigrants who are under 30 years old, came to the United States before the age of 16, have lived in the United States for at least five years, pose no criminal or security threat, and have been successful students or served in the U.S. military will qualify for a two-year deferral from deportation.
The congressional Republicans are howling with outrage over the new policy, calling it "amnesty" in disguise. Of course, it isn't. It is simply a two-year deferment. But it will give those young people time to apply for a work permit ( and hopefully start on the path toward obtaining full citizenship).
The president noted that these young immigrants "study in our schools, play in our neighborhoods, befriend our kids, pledge allegiance to our flag. It makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans." And he is right. Many of these young people have really known no country but the United States. But even more important, these young people have already shown that they would be an asset to the United States. They have shown they are the kind of hard-working, honest, and decent people that we hope all immigrants could be.
In a country like ours, that was built by immigrants, this new policy makes sense. Hispanic leaders immediately applauded the new policy as a step in the right direction (and the Republicans mean-spirited reaction will only insure they get very few votes in the Hispanic community this November). But there is evidence that this move by the president will also be approved by a much larger percentage of all Americans.
A new Gallup Poll, taken between June 7th and 10th of a random national sample of 1,004 adults, shows that more than twice as many Americans (66%) think immigration is good for America as those (29%) who think it is bad (see the graph above). And it just makes sense that this 66% of all Americans would think that young people who have already proven themselves (through academic success or military service) would be a valuable asset to this country.
Some may think the people responding positively in the poll to immigration, but a second question in the Gallup survey shows that is probably not true. When asked whether it is more important to develop a plan to deal with the undocumented immigrants in this country or to close our borders to further immigration, a significant majority opted for the former. Since even the right-wing admits it is virtually impossible to try and deport all undocumented immigrants, that plan must be to come up with a way to grant legal residence status (and possibly even a path to citizenship). Here are the percentages of those who want a sane plan to deal with undocumented immigrants:
The president didn't just do the right thing by instituting this new policy -- he did the smart thing. The congressional Republicans may be making their teabagger base happy with their opposition, but they are just further separating themselves from the majority of Americans.
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