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Executive action on immigration delayed but still necessary

I am writing in response to Sergio Rojas’ Nov. 24 column in The Daily Targum. President Barack Obama has taken the right step in taking on the issue of a broken system albeit during his final few years in office. The job of fixing the broken immigration system was taken in all sincerity and earnestness by the former President George W. Bush in 2006 and failed in Congress. However, the immigration issue is radioactive and neither party is interested in fixing this broken system even with a ten-foot pole. By taking executive action and providing paperwork for undocumented immigrants of US citizens or Permanent residents would help bring forth millions out of shadow world of exploitation, reprisals of arrests and deportation.

More importantly, on a micro-economic level there is parallel economy of ‘cash only’ transactions, which denies the local, state and federal government proper revenue for our country, which is currently $17.9 trillion in debt. Additionally, this denies the benefits that taxpayers are entitled to such as social security and Medicare. These immigrants who soon will get employment work authorization (EAD) cards and social security number will end up buying homes, raising families, and some will even start businesses, which most importantly contribute towards kick starting a stagnant economy after the 2008 economic meltdown.

When President Reagan granted amnesty to three million immigrants in the 1980s, the result was an economic boom in the late 1990s (thanks in part to the Internet and world wide web), which resulted in a budget surplus. On a macro-economic level, immigrants provide a shot in the arm to rejuvenate and kick start the economy. The simple reason is that every immigrant wants to live and experience the ‘American Dream.’

I came as an immigrant to this country 15 years back and played by the rules. The legal process to obtain permanent residency took nearly 10 years. Some people who started the process even before me are still awaiting visa numbers due to archaic immigration laws framed in the 1960s. This requires an act of Congress to update the immigration system for the 21st century as immigrants continue to play a vital and vibrant role in painting this country’s growth and prosperity.

My only wish is that President Obama had acted this decisively much earlier in his presidency, rather than awaiting the results from the 2014 mid-term elections and then acting upon it during his final few years in office. Maybe he has decided to leave behind the fruits of his executive action to be enjoyed by his successor by providing the much-needed shot in the arm to jump start our ailing U.S. economy, as President Reagan did in the 1980s.

Venkatesh Balasubramanian is graduate student in the Department of Chemical and Biochemical Engineering.

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