Young immigrants won’t ‘accept no’ after meeting with Obama on reforms

By Arturo Garcia
Wednesday, February 6, 2013 14:06 EDT
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Hispanic immigrants filling out paperwork via AFP
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Leaders of the immigration advocacy group United We Dream (UWD) told The Raw Story on Wednesday they would continue to exert pressure on President Barack Obama and lawmakers to create a clear route to U.S. citizenship for the country’s undocumented immigrants.

“DREAMers are not good at accepting no as an answer,” said the group’s advocacy and policy director, Lorella Praeli, referring to those still fighting for the passage of the DREAM Act of 2010. “If the president is saying that he will not stop the deportation of members of our community, we do not take that lightly. And we are in this fight for permanent relief through the legislative process. But if that does not go where we think it will go, that does not mean that we will give up on our communities.”

According to The Washington Post, Obama said in a meeting on Tuesday with UWD and 15 other labor and advocacy groups that his administration would not ease up on its deportation policy, which was responsible for shipping almost 410,000 people out of the country last year.

Instead, UWD managing director Cristina Jimenez said, the administration said it is focusing on forging ahead with new legislation.

“He responded by thinking of this from a political strategy perspective,” said Jimenez, who was at the meeting. “The best opportunity that we have at this moment is to push for this legislation to address not only the current enforcement system, but also to reach a permanent solution to immigration reform.”

Both the White House and a bipartisan group from the U.S. Senate have released their own frameworks for how they would like to reform the immigration process.

While UWD said it was prepared to meet with 70 lawmakers from both major parties this week, Jimenez did indicate that one cause for concern with the proposal from the “Group of 8″ was that it did not address LGBTQ immigrants. One of the members of that group, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), has dismissed that idea several times.

In contrast, Jimenez said, Obama reaffirmed in the meeting his proposal’s allowing for members in same sex relationships to seek visas on behalf of their partners.

United We Dream also released a list of 20 policies it wants to see implemented as part of whatever immigration reform is borne from the newfound legislative interest in the issue, including instant eligibility for adult immigrants to apply for temporary immigration status, with a 2-year limit on waiting to be able to apply for permanent residency; and a 5-year cap on similar waits before applying for citizenship. Each of the 11 million undocumented immigrants living in the U.S., the group’s proposal said, should immediately be eligible to begin this process whenever a bill is passed.

The group also calls for young immigrants currently enrolled in Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program to be eligible for lawful permanent residency immediately as part of the eventual new guidelines, since the program already involves paying a $465 fee and going through background checks.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Arturo Garcia
Arturo Garcia
Arturo R. García is the managing editor at Racialicious.com. He is based in San Diego, California and has written for both print and broadcast media, including contributions to GlobalComment.com, The Root and Comment Is Free. Follow him on Twitter at @ABoyNamedArt
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