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What Does An Obama Win Mean for Immigration Reform?

Murali Bashyam
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After a historic election, we now know who will be the 44th President of the United States - President Elect Barack Obama. With the election of Senator Obama, the focus now turns to what he will do with the economy, health care reform, and the war in Iraq. But what will he do about immigration reform? After years of 'near misses' on this issue, will President Elect propose legislation that will end immigrant visa backlogs, provide a path for undocumented aliens to obtain citizenship, and reform a system that needs to keep up with our global economy?
 
Our prediction is that he will.
 
To get an idea of Senator Obama's position on immigration reform, one only has to listen to what he actually says on the issue. In response to the U.S. Senate's failure to move on the DREAM Act, a bill he sponsored, Senator Obama said the following in October 2007.
 
"We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country -- reform that promotes our national and economic security and creates a pathway to earned citizenship for the 12 million undocumented immigrants in this country. We should not punish undocumented children who were brought to this country illegally through no choice of their own by keeping them in the shadows. The DREAM Act would have given these young people the opportunity to earn a degree or serve in our military, and eventually become legalized citizens. Failing to pass the DREAM Act only compounds the immigration crisis by continuing to drive thousands of young people every year into hiding."
 
"Today is another missed opportunity in the battle to solve the immigration crisis in this country. The immigration debate has been wrought with the politics of division and fear, and been exploited by some politicians, blocking the real reform we need. Today's vote proves that we need to do more to transcend these divisions -- especially to provide solutions to help the most vulnerable in our society. I will continue to work with Senators Durbin, Hagel, Lugar and Kennedy on this issue, and will fight to bring this legislation back for another vote as soon as possible."
 
It is clear that immigration reform is essential. Companies must be able to hire the workers that they need to stay competitive. A person should not have to wait 6-12 years to obtain permanent residency, and a lawful permanent resident should not have to wait 4-5 years to bring their spouse to the United States. Furthermore, something has to be done to bring illegal aliens 'out of the shadows'. Any workable solution must ultimately balance fair immigration reform with immigration enforcement. 
 
President Elect Obama will have many issues to tackle during his first year as President. But because immigration is so important to so many people and businesses in the United States, we hope that he makes positive immigration reform one of his top priorities. 

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