Last Thursday, in his immigration speech, President Obama promised to increase the budget for law enforcement at our Southern border to prevent illegal crossings and to speed up deportation of “those who do cross over.” Additionally, he promised to “make it easier and faster for high-skilled immigrants, graduates and entrepreneurs to stay and contribute to our economy,” however, he emphasized that felons and gang members should not have the chance to take advantage of American life, but rather be deported. Obama asked Congress to get out of its gridlock and work together on this and other topics instead of against each other. After all, “our history and the facts show that immigrants are a net plus for our economy and our society,” the President added.
Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, an opponent of Obama’s immigration measures spoke to the President in a video on YouTube last Wednesday: “Like their American criminal counterparts, they commit murders, sexual assaults, kidnaps, thefts, engage in violent gang activity and murder police officers. The problem I have is I can’t tell which ones are good and which ones are evil, and neither can you. By their very definition, they are undocumented, untracked, untraced and unaccounted for.”
Representative Sam Farr, D-Carmel, calls the plan “a good first step,” but worries that “it does not go far enough to protect our local economy by ensuring that the agriculture industry has access to a stable workforce.”
Senator Barbara Boxer applauded “President Obama for stepping up and taking bold and constitutional action to bring people out of the shadows, thereby strengthening our economy and keeping families from being torn apart.” She believes that “these steps will increase border security and hold people accountable by requiring them to undergo background checks and pay taxes.”
According to the Los Angeles Times, many immigrants from different backgrounds celebrated Obama’s policies. Citlali Gomez, a 34-year-old Mexican immigrant, who has been in the US for 12 years, has always lived in fear of being discovered, told the paper: “We’re going to leave the darkness. We’re going to stop being scared.” She wants “a better life” and is optimistic that she can take up her old profession as a nurse instead of cleaning houses, like she did here.
Another immigrant, 27-year-old Martha from El Salvador, also qualifies for relief. “Finally. This means I’m going to be able to get an internship. This means I’m going to be able to get a real job,” the Los Angeles Times quoted her as saying, teary-eyed and happy.
S.J. Lee, a Korean who stayed in Los Angeles after his tourist visa expired and founded a family, told an LA Times reporter: “The president’s reassurances give us a bit of hope because he’s showing that he cares. He understands this is not an issue affecting just Latinos.”
Governor Jerry Brown praised Obama and said that he “stepped up for hard-working families across America.”