In many ways, Jose Antonio Vargas' story is that of everyone who lives in the United States:
Except, through no fault of his own, he is an undocumented alien living in America. Brought here as a young man, he grew up here. He is a success here, and by just about any other criteria would be an American. Yet, he can't leave the country for fear of not being allowed to return. Going back to the place he was born would put him somewhere that, to him, would be a foreign land.
Who Are We, Really?
Embedded in that paragraph is a video of Mr. Vargas telling his story. His parents brought him here when he was still a minor. Like many such people, he thinks of America as his home. Unlike many, because his parents came here illegally, he must fear being deported should he ever leave the country. As Taylor Marsh reports today, he and many other young people who are in a similar situation were featured on the cover of Time magazine this week, even in the U.S.
Soon thereafter, his situation changed somewhat:
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization. ... Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:
- Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- Are not above the age of thirty.
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action.
Secretary Napolitano Announces Deferred Action Process for Young People Who Are Low Enforcement Priorities
There are a couple of things to note about this. The first is that it is not a blanket pardon or anything of the sort. The government is just saying that it will no longer deport these folks, hoping that the DREAM Act or some similar legislation will make it possible for them to become U.S. citizens. It is, as the announcement says, a "deferred action". It can be un-deferred at any time, say, on November 7, 2012.
The second thing to note is that it clearly applies to very few undocumented immigrants. The Associated Press reports it will be "as many as 800,000". By the standard of how many undocumented workers are estimated to be in the U.S., that's a pretty small number. It is also a small number of people when we're talking about the labor force.
Yet it seems to have generated a tremendous amount of consternation on the part of people who, at least now, have an abiding interest in raising employment levels in America. Like this guy, for instance:
In a surprising breach of etiquette, President Barack Obama's Rose Garden remarks on Friday were interrupted by heckling from reporter Neil Munro of the website Daily Caller, whose editor-in-chief is conservative commentator Tucker Carlson.
Obama, announcing a change of policy that would allow the children of illegal immigrants to avoid deportation if they meet certain criteria, was interrupted mid-speech by Munro.
"Why’d you favor foreigners over Americans?” Munro shouted.
Obama interrupted by heckling reporter
The White House transcript of the speech says that someone shouted out the question "What about American workers who are unemployed while you import foreigners?" at the end of the address.
I don't know anything about Neil Munro, but I'll make one observation about him before moving on to the more general group of people his views seem to represent. He's a clown. There's no other way to put it. That question of his in the quote block above is nonsense. This policy change doesn't even put these people on an even basis with Americans. It just makes it much less likely they'll be deported. If that second question about "importing" foreigners is his, then he's an idiot who can't understand his own language. No one is being imported. The people covered in this policy change are already here, and have been for quite some time. That's because they grew up here.
How pathetically stupid can you be, and still work for a major American news bureau? Neil Munro seems to be the latest experiment designed to answer that question.
As to the larger group of people whom Munro appears to represent, I'm speaking of bigots, many of who are conservatives these days. It's pretty clear that the people who are covered by this policy change are few in number, and they are the victims of injustice here, not the perpetrators. They didn't choose to move here to America, but it became their home. Sending them to where Munro and the thought-deprived individuals he represents think they "belong" would be sending them somewhere they know nothing about.
What's more, there are fewer than a million of them. Even if, by some miracle, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) managed to catch all of them and send them somewhere else, that would still represent a small portion of all the people who are out of work in this country. If Munro and his fellow blithering idiots are really concerned about employment, why aren't they bugging the President about things like this?
- The one million jobs we lose by continuing our losing effort in Afghanistan.
- The million jobs we've lost because the federal government didn't step up to supplement tax revenue lost by states and municipalities.
- The millions of jobs that didn't materialize because the government enacted a stimulus program that was way too small.
They're not concerned about any of that, but they're happy to be afraid of the brown people taking "our" jobs. Not that they seem to be at all concerned about enforcing the work safety rules, minimum wage rules, or other things that employers can get away with not obeying if they're hiring undocumented workers.
Why is that? When you get right down to it, it's pretty simple. There are lots of folks who will begrudge anyone getting what they feel they've worked hard for, if there's any way they can convince themselves those people deserve it less. You saw some of that in the Wisconsin recall election, where lots of folks resented that public employees get better benefits and pay thanks to being unionized. Not for a second do those folks seem to consider that because those jobs pay so well, other employers have to pay better to compete. They'd rather hate what other people are getting than to have a chance for more themselves.
They won't dare call out who is really responsible for what's happened here in America lately: the massive control fraud, the wasteful wars, and the sorry state of education. Oh, wait, that last part is the fault of the teachers' unions! They sure know how to punish the innocent there, don't they? They'll blame the people who aren't able to defend themselves, rather than face what's really required to set things right, and they'll call themselves courageous for doing so.
Which is an attitude that plays really well in conservative land. They are perfectly happy to help folks blame people who have even less control over what goes on in America than they do for our troubles, rather than blaming the people who are the real cause of the problems.
Or did I miss the memo when we found out that it was all those children of illegal aliens who crashed the financial system back in 2007-2008? Were they the ones who got us into two ruinous wars, let the government get away with torturing people and the financial executives get away with massive fraud? If someone has proof of that, please provide a link.
I could use a laugh today.