This week, several undocumented immigrants chained themselves to the gates outside of the White House to protest the deportations of people who were found living in the United States illegally. The seven protesters were arrested and released, and deportation proceedings are not expected to take place against them.
One of the organizers of the protest said that the group wanted to call attention to the many deportations being carried out by the Obama Administration. The protestors called on President Obama to expand the "deferred action" program that was created last year and temporarily pardoned and gave work permits to more than 450,000 young people who could have otherwise faced deportation.
President Obama was asked in a recent interview if he would consider expanding the program to others who are currently living in the country illegally. The president said that doing so was not an option because it could violate the immigration laws that were passed by Congress and the actions would be hard to defend legally.
While some immigrant advocates want to keep pressure on the Obama Administration, others say that demonstrators should remain focused on getting members of Congress to act on immigrant reform, especially members of the Republican party.
The director of immigration policy for a liberal Washington D.C. think tank called the Center for American Progress said there is still time for Congress to implement immigration reform and efforts should be concentrated on getting that to happen.
The Senate has approved a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would secure the border and provide a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the country. However, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives has failed to make much progress on the matter.
As Congress weighs the idea of immigration reform, the lives of many immigrants sit in limbo. The good news is that Immigration and Customs Enforcement has said that it is focusing deportation efforts on people with extensive criminal records or who pose a national security threat. That gives non-criminal undocumented immigrants more of a fighting chance in deportation and removal proceedings.
Source: USA TODAY, "Undocumented immigrants fight deportations at White House," Alan Gomez, Sept. 19, 2013