Why Obama Is Right on Immigration Reform

I signed on this week (in a letter to Congress) seeking support for President Barack Obama’s effort to reform a flawed Immigration system, because it is the right thing to do.

I also indicated my support for Obama’s immigration reform in a separate correspondence with his Organizing for Action (OFA) grassroots movement, where I specifically pledged support for his campaign against gun violence, help in the fight for climate change, and help fix America’s broken immigration system.

This was based on a direct outreach soon after the November 4 elections in which the President in his e-mail to me said, “The elected officials I’ll work with in the last two years of my presidency need to be reminded that people like you aren’t going away. They need to know you won’t let the special interests in Washington drown out the voices of Americans who want to drive our country forward.”

In his e-mail the President added, “Because of you, and groups like OFA, the face of American politics is fundamentally different today. You’ve changed what it means to get involved, and you’ve redefined how power is built. Last week’s election doesn’t change that; it just makes your job all the more critical.”

This explains why I am fully in support of President Obama’s executive action on immigration reform.

The reform introduces a new program for unauthorized immigrants who are the parents of United States citizens, and over four million people will be eligible for a new legal status that would defer their deportations and allow them to work legally upon successful background checks and verifiable tax payments.

Justifying his action in a primetime speech last week, President Obama emphasized, “The actions I’m taking are not only lawful, they’re the kinds of actions taken by every single Republican president and every Democratic president for the past half-century.”

He added, “To those members of Congress who question my authority to make our immigration system work better, or question the wisdom of me acting where Congress has failed, I have one answer -Pass a bill.”

Indeed, those who are up against the Immigration reform policy are quick to forget that America is a nation of immigrants, including the more than one million Nigerians, who are an integral part of the nation’s economy.

For most of the one million Nigerian immigrants in America, the American dream, is why we all immigrated. In my own case, I am proud that my American sojourn has resulted in two very intelligent and well brought up children and an illustrious career in journalism and public service that has helped somewhat to destroy the negative image and stereotyping of Africans.

Like every other country there are some bad apples, but most Nigerians in America are hard-working, well-intentioned. A recent BET story said, “Nigerian-Americans have long been known for their community’s intense cultural emphasis on education, and now an analysis of Census data coupled with several local surveys shows that Nigerians don’t just value education, but surpass all other U.S. ethnic groups when it comes to obtaining degrees.”

In the same vein, the Houston Chronicle, said although Nigerians make up a tiny portion of the U.S. population, a whopping 17 percent of all Nigerians in America held Master’s degrees while 4 percent had a doctorate, according to the 2006 American Community Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, the article says, 37 percent had bachelor’s degrees.

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Ben Edokpayi

Ben Edokpayi is a strategic communications consultant with more than 25 years experience in the USA and Nigeria. His most recent corporate assignment was as Media Relations Officer with the California State Compensation Insurance Fund.

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