President Obama’s immigration executive order will shield five million undocumented people in the United States from deportation allowing them to work legally as long as they have no criminal records, pay their taxes and have children.
But what about those without, or more importantly, unable to have children?
Is it fair that they’re being excluded?
IrishCentral spoke to Clare (not her real name), originally from Wexford, who lives in Queens, New York. Now in her 40s Clare has lived and worked in the United States for over 18 years, paying taxes and playing an active role in the Irish community in New York. Sadly Clare and her husband are unable to have children.
Clare has followed the Irish community fight for comprehensive immigration reform since 2006 and eagerly awaited Obama’s executive order announcement.
She told IrishCentral “My initial reaction was total delight that something is finally happening on the immigration front. Since the hard learned lessons from the McCain Kennedy bill times, I don't think anyone with an interest in immigration has dared to get their hopes up too high, so what President Obama did last night was a massive step in the right direction.”
While it is a step in the right direction Clare will not be one of the five million people to pick up a social security card, allowing them to work legally, apply for a driver’s license and hopefully in time allow them to travel home to see their family, all because she doesn’t have children.
“Other than not having children, I would tick all the boxes. It adds insult to injury because my husband and I would love nothing more than to have kids, but because of a medical condition, I can't so this does pour salt in the wound a bit.
“But it’s not just me that this clause will rule out. There are plenty of people in our community who tick all the other boxes but are single and don't have kids, or gay friends who don't have kids either. What are they meant to do? Are they really excluded? There's plenty of people who won’t be covered unfortunately.”
The news of this executive order will bring solace to thousands of the estimated 50,000 Irish undocumented living in the US, but for those who are left on the outside the fight for a more comprehensive immigration reform will continue.
Clare said “I know just as many Irish families with a gaggle of kids as I know families without kids, or single people or gay people who are undocumented. This isn’t over.
“Hopefully the parents who are covered will remember "there but for the grace of God go I" and they continue to push for immigration reform for everyone in our community. The Irish centers, the GAA and groups like the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform will be important to keep the focus on the big picture and use this as a great starting point but nowhere close to the finish line.”
She continued “Do I wish that I was covered by this? Absolutely. But with this order, President Obama has nearly cut in half the number of undocumented people in the US and that alone is a major achievement.
“I am very happy that the President did what he could, despite the do-nothing Congress, and I hope that common sense will prevail so that those of us who meet all the other criteria except for being childless will also be included.”
On Thursday evening Obama took a first, commonsense, step and now it’s up to the Congress to finish the job. A statement released by the White House asked that they work towards “a bill like the bipartisan Senate bill” to create “an earned path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants who pay a fine and taxes, pass a background check” regardless of whether they have children or not.
As Clare said here’s hoping that common sense prevails.