November 21, 2014

Obama offers protection to unauthorized migrants

Barack Obama has announced plans that will protect around five million undocumented migrants living in the US from deportation.

Migrants who have lived in the US for over five years, who are the parents of legal residents, and who pass a criminal background check will be allowed to remain in the country legally. The policy does not apply to more recent or future migrants, and does not allow migrants to stay indefinitely or become citizens.

In a controversial move, the US President will use his executive authority to effect the reforms unilaterally, after a bill addressing the issue of unauthorized migrants was blocked by the House of Representatives. He will also provide more resources for border control, and make it easier for skilled legal migrants to remain in the country.

There are an estimated 11 million undocumented migrants currently living in the US, of whom nearly half will qualify for the “deferred action” program.

In his speech, President Obama remarked that “For more than 200 years, our tradition of welcoming immigrants from around the world has given us a tremendous advantage over other nations. It’s kept us youthful, dynamic, and entrepreneurial.”

Pia Orrenius has written on enforcement and illegal migration for IZA World of Labor, noting that “While some empirical studies find that border and interior enforcement serve as significant deterrents to illegal immigration, immigration enforcement is costly and carries significant unintended consequences, such as an increase in fraudulent and falsified documents and rising border death rates as migrants undertake more dangerous crossings.”

Read more and watch President Obama’s speech.

Related articles

Enforcement and illegal migration, by Pia Orrenius
Using a point system for selecting immigrants, by Massimiliano Tani

Further articles on this topic can be found under the Migration subject area.