Feb 13 2013
President Obama mentioned immigration several times during his State of the Union address this evening—perhaps most poignantly when he altered the citizenship narrative that closed his remarks to include a definition “that doesn’t just describe our nationality or legal status.”
But we didn’t hear anything new in terms of comprehensive immigration reform.
Obama touted his increased border security, but failed to mention the record number of deportations that continue to occur under his watch. The president did reiterate his call for a pathway to citizenship, but only when followed by a background check, fees and fines, and English language acquisition. Some of those restrictions might stand in the way of undocumented immigrant workers who labor long days with little pay, and little access to time or the educational opportunities that would allow them to learn English.
Tonight’s audience included at least five young undocumented immigrants, most of whom qualify for Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals plan, or DACA. These “dacamented” students included current college students and recent graduates. Julieta Garibay, who founded United We Dream, could have been one of them. The activists has organized around the DREAM Act for years, but at 32 years old, she just missed the age cut off. Garibay represents the toll that the arbitrary nature of a broken immigration system takes.