The President's vision of reform is a mixed bag, but he's right about the need to fix the system now
RALEIGH (July 1) - Local advocates for immigrants say that President Obama's speech today is correct about the need to reform the immigration system. But, they cautioned today, America needs more than speeches to fix our broken system.
"President Obama is correct that comprehensive immigration reform is long overdue," said Dani Martinez-Moore, immigrant network coordinator for the NC Justice Center. "But meaningful action has to follow his words if this speech is to have any impact."
The immigration system is broken, dividing families and communities. The Justice Center applauded Obama's call to create a legal framework that would reunite immigrant families and create a badly-needed path to citizenship for undocumented workers.
Obama was also right to acknowledge, advocates said, that the "steady stream of hard-working and talented people" has been the engine of America's economic opportunity - and wise to support the DREAM Act, a bill that would allow some undocumented people to obtain citizenship by serving in the military or completing a college education.
"What we really need is an accessible path to timely legal status and citizenship for workers and families currently living in the U.S.," said Martinez-Moore. "The DREAM Act is a common-sense proposal that would be a great first step."
Obama misfired, though, by devoting too much emphasis to border security, she said.
"There are more enforcement officers on the border than ever before, and deportation is occurring at record rates," said Martinez-Moore. "We don't need more enforcement. We need laws that are clear, fair, and equitable for people who want to become citizens."
President Obama's speech did declare mass deportation of undocumented workers "unfair" and "costly," and said to deport all people here without permission "would tear apart the fabric of this nation."
He did not mention that 1,000 immigrants are deported every day under the Obama administration, more than under President George W. Bush.