Caribbean legislators welcomed Obama’s decisionUS President Barack Obama (FP)
Sat, June 16, 2012 - 12:35 PM
NEW YORK, CMC – At least two Caribbean legislators in the United States have welcomed the Obama administration’s decision not to deport most young illegal Caribbean and other immigrants.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said on Friday that, effective immediately, Washington would no longer seek the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and would instead permit them to apply for work permits if they meet certain criteria.
"I commend President Obama and Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Napolitano for announcing a significant change in immigration policy by stopping the deportation of undocumented immigrants who came to the US as children," said Caribbean American Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke, the daughter of Jamaican immigrants, in a CMC interview.
"This policy constitutes an important start to fixing an immigration system that doesn’t work – for anyone – and will assist thousands of people in my district whose families include citizens and legal residents, documented and undocumented immigrants," added the representative for the largely Caribbean 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York.
But Clarke said, while the announcement is "a great first step forward, we need to allow these children a clear pathway to citizenship.
" In this nexus, the congresswoman called for passage of the DREAM Act, an immigration reform Bill that has stalled in the US Congress due to Republican objections.
"I call on opponents in the Congress, mainly the Tea Party Majority in the House (of Representatives), to put these political games aside and do what is right for the American people," she said.
"Know that, despite the political gridlock in Washington, I will continue to fight for the passage of the Dream Act for the thousands of young people who are ready to contribute greatly to this nation," she added.
"The inability to work has plagued this group of youth and young adults for years, as many were and continue to be educated by our schools but cannot contribute to our government from which they’ve benefitted. These kids want to attend school and find jobs – pursue the American Dream," Clarke continued.
New York City Councilman Dr Mathieu Eugene, the first Haitian to be elected to the city Council, also applauded President Obama for stopping the deportation of young undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
"This decision will impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families across the United States, including many people living in the community I proudly serve," the representative for the predominantly Caribbean 40th Council District in Brooklyn told CMC.
"Immigrants are an integral part of the fabric of our communities, contributing enormously to the economy of our city, state and country. I believe this is a win-win situation for younger immigrants and their families, as well as for all New Yorkers," Eugene said.
"Hundreds of thousands of immigrants now will no longer have to live in fear of being deported or separated from their families. Further, this policy will allow these young immigrants an opportunity to realize their dreams and become the doctors, lawyers, teachers, professionals and future leaders of tomorrow.
"I am proud to continue serving as an advocate for comprehensive immigration reform and to enact such legislation, as the DREAM Act, that will support immigrant youth," he continued.
Obama said the decision was intended to make America's immigration system "more fair, more efficient and more just
."They (immigrants) were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and oftentimes had no idea they were undocumented until they applied for a job," he said in a White House statement.
"They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds in every single way but one: on paper."
US Officials said as many as 800,000 undocumented immigrants, including Caribbean nationals, stand to benefit from this change.
Homeland Security Department Secretary Janet Napolitano said the shift represented neither immunity nor amnesty – buzzwords for conservatives who oppose illegal immigration – but instead represented an instance of "prosecutorial discretion" in which Washington had re-evaluated its priorities in enforcing the law.
"This is not amnesty; this is not immunity; this is not a path to citizenship," Obama said, stating that it’s a "temporary fix."
Napolitano said immigrants who were illegally brought to the US as children "lacked the intent to violate the law" and pose few national security risks will not be deported, if they meet five criteria.
She said the immigrant must have come to the US under the age of 16; be no older than 30; be currently enrolled in school, have graduated high school or served in the US Armed Forces; have been in the country for five continuous years; and have a clean criminal record.
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