On Friday the Obama Administration announced Family Unity Waivers, a new immigration procedure which would allow undocumented immigrants to stay in this country with their US citizen family members while applying for green cards.
Previously, applicants had to return to their country of origin, often for years, before they were eligible to apply for citizenship. Fathers left children, sons and daughters left elderly parents; two income-earning families became dependent on one. Subsequently, Democrats and immigrant rights groups have risen up in a chorus of praise for Obama. The National Immigration Forum calls it a “tremendous victory for US families,” and the Colorado Immigrant Rights Coalitions commended the Obama Administration in a Jan 6 press release.
But it is too little, too late for the millions of immigrants who took Obama at his word. Back in 2008 Obama supported comprehensive immigration reform, the Dream Act, a guest worker program, and espoused the fact that “legalizing” immigrant works would raise wages for all workers.
In a speech in June of 2008, Obama said, “We need immigration reform [. . .] that finally brings the 12 million people who are here illegally out of the shadows by requiring them to take steps to become legal citizens. We must assert our values and reconcile our principles as a nation of immigrants and a nation of laws. That is a priority I will pursue from my very first day.”
It didn’t take long before the rate of deportations skyrocketed to the highest under any president. He has deported over a million people in two-and-a-half years, many of whom have no criminal record. He is on pace to deport more undocumented immigrants in one term than George Bush did in two. And we are still waiting for comprehensive immigration reform.
Family Unity Waivers will make an enormous difference for millions of families and their approval should be celebrated. But it is three years too late. It seems that as we start another election year perhaps Obama is more interested in political pandering than he is committed to civil rights for all.