Illegal immigration issues not going away soon

Thaddeus Mast

There are an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the United States. Iowa has its fair share of unregistered immigrants. Even though immigration legislation has not changed since 1965, some changes are slowly coming into play.

The latest attempt to change the immigration law was the Dream Act in 2010 and 2011. It was “designed to give a chance to stay in the country especially to the children of illegal immigrants,” as said Mack Shelley, university professor of political science. It has been filibustered out of the Senate and is not going to be overcome soon.

“The Republican opposition is driven by the general sense that even if you came here as a child it is still your fault legally and you shouldn’t get the same benefits that people who have been here their whole lives get,” Shelley said. “The Democrat counterargument is that these kids have been here all of their lives or at least long enough that they don’t remember anything before here.”

Mariana Medina, assistant professor of political science, said nothing will pass this year concerning immigration.

“It’s an electoral year, so nothing will be successful,” she said.

The only major reform since 1965 has been the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The act gave amnesty to illegal immigrants who came to the United States before 1982, as well as making it illegal to knowingly hire or recruit unauthorized immigrants.

However, on June 15, President Barack Obama made a memorandum concerning illegal immigration.

“What that is, is it told the Department of Homeland Security to not deport people under 30,” Medina said.

The memorandum took pointers from the Dream Act, which states that if an illegal immigrant has a high school diploma and is either seeking higher education or joining the military, they will not be deported. The focus will now be on those with criminal records.

Some might ask why immigrants do not just get a visa or a green card before coming to the US. What most people do not know is that one must have a sponsor, usually through the workplace, to get a visa. A green card is similar but with a more permanent effect.

“Around half of illegal immigrants are people who came with a visa and didn’t leave,” Medina said

The increased amount of immigrants is having an effect on national politics, Shelley said.

“The Democrats in general are trying to take advantage of the Hispanic vote to pass the Dream Act. If the Republican Party wanted to trump the Democrats on an issue and make it much harder for the Democrats to benefit on the rapidly growing Hispanic population, they should just pass the Dream Act and say that we can do that too.”