Two weeks ago, President Obama gave educators something to celebrate when he issued an This is a remarkable step for human rights, especially for an Administration that has deported people at a faster rate than its predecessors.
I’m glad that a weight has been lifted from the shoulders of any undocumented students who will pass through my classroom. Without the threat of arrest, detention and deportation, they’ll be able to better focus on academics and preparing themselves for the responsibilities of adulthood.
As a teacher, I believe in the worth of all of my children. So it’s painful to hear all of the hateful baloney stirred up by Mr. Obama’s executive order. Issue number one: taxes.
The reality is that, in general, undocumented families work hard, pay many taxes (e.g. sales taxes) and do their best to raise their children as productive members of society. Undocumented people are completely ineligible for welfare or Social Security. Even legal permanent residents have to pay into the system for at least ten years before obtaining any eligibility.
I am valued for what I contribute to society as a teacher, not what I contribute to the U.S. government as a tax-payer. Why would we judge a person’s total value as a human being based on what taxes they do or don’t pay?
The whole issue of taxes is a red herring.
Besides, the real tax cheats are perfectly legal. Between the years 2008-2011, Pacific Gas & Electric made $6 billion in profits while paying an effective federal tax rate of negative 18.4 percent. PG&E – the corporation that destroyed an entire neighborhood in San Bruno – is just one of 26 major companies that have paid no net federal income taxes for the past several years. What an outrage.
Mr. Obama’s executive order will simply sweep clear some of the fear and anxiety that exists amongst undocumented people. But let’s be honest. His executive order is also extremely narrow in scope. The requirements, according to CNN:
“Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation.”
So the truth is that a modest number of people will receive a two-year reprieve from the painful disruption of deportation. How sad that our expectations for progress are so low that this is something that excites those of us who care about human rights?
A better step would be to provide a pathway to permanent citizenship for all undocumented youth. Even better would be to welcome all immigrants with open arms to the wealthiest country in the world.
If that increases government costs, so be it. I know of at least 26 places to find some extra money.