Obama relaxes US immigration policy, angers Republicans

Published 21.11.2014 00:00
Updated 21.11.2014 10:52
Obama relaxes US immigration policy, angers Republicans

President Barack Obama announced on Thursday a new comprehensive immigration reform plan in an effort to fix the country's broken immigration system through overhauling immigration enforcement actions.

Addressing the issue of undocumented immigrants, President Obama's plan now allows up to four million people to apply for a program that provides protection from deportation by allowing them to obtain work permits. However, only those who have lived in the U.S. for at least five years can apply for this program. The reform plan also lifts the limit on the age of young immigrants in order to qualify for work legally in the country while providing them with new legal protections from the U.S. government.

In addition, at least 250,000 undocumented people who work on farms would be "eligible for deportation relief," the president of the United Farm Workers Union said on Wednesday after a meeting with President Obama, as reported by Reuters.

"America's immigration system is broken. Too many employers game the system by hiring undocumented workers and there are 11 million people living in the shadows. Neither is good for the economy or the country as it requires anyone who's undocumented to get right with the law by paying their taxes and a penalty, learning English, and undergoing background checks before they can be eligible to earn citizenship" said the White House in a statement, addressing President Obama's immigration

Meanwhile, Obama's latest move has received significant reaction from Republicans while accusing him of acting unilaterally. The U.S. Representative Paul Ryan, the leading Republican voice and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, called Obama's reform plan a "partisan bomb."

Obama's plan is expected to affect millions in the country that has been enriched by its diverse multicultural population. In particular it would affect the Hispanics, who live mostly in the southern states, which would give huge support to the president.

Anyone who is not a citizen or a national of the United States and seeks to live in the U.S. is called "alien," as they are subjected to detention, arrest, removal and deportation, which are all instruments of enforcement action. An Office of Immigration Statistics (OIS) Annual Report in September revealed "information on aliens who were determined inadmissible, apprehended, arrested, detained, returned, or removed, during 2013."

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) removed approximately 438,000 aliens from the U.S. The leading countries of origin for those removed were Mexico (72 percent), Guatemala (11 percent), Honduras (8.3 percent), and El Salvador (4.8 percent), according to the report. The report also shows that the number of aliens removed from the U.S. has increased from 2004 to 2013. "The number of removals increased from 418,397 in 2012 to an all-time high of 438,421 in 2013," the report indicated.

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