UT students and faculty weigh in on President Obama's immigration policy

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Faculty members and students offered their varying viewpoints at the heels of President Barack Obama’s call for action on immigration policy.

On Tuesday, White House officials released the details of President Obama’s new reforms to strengthen border security and restrict illegal hiring, while also encouraging earned citizenship and providing methods for employers to ensure legal practices. 

Victoria M. DeFrancesco Soto, a fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs and a visiting scholar in the department of government, said she supports the reform. 

“That Obama’s plan seeks to allow for those who are already in the U.S. to gain citizenship, while at the same time, strengthening the nation’s borders produces a immigration policy that is fair and balanced,” Soto said.

The proposal advocates new efforts to legally integrate undocumented workers into the system, claiming that a direct pathway to citizenship will discourage immigrants from living in the U.S. illegally. 

Republican legislators voiced concern that the proposal will result in a more lenient approach to gaining citizenship. The proposal includes several steps to citizenship, including several criminal background and security checks along with proper documentation.

In addition to increasing citizenship, the plan proposes enhancing infrastructure to tighten border security, deporting criminals and increasing staff to refine the immigration court system. The proposal advocates enforcing stricter laws on businesses employing undocumented workers, which would incentivize undocumented immigrants to apply for citizenship. The proposal states that installing specific databases within companies verifying each employee’s immigration status will prevent undocumented individuals from exploiting the system.

Government sophomore Tyler Flowers said he believes it should be easier to obtain citizenship, but it should be more difficult to live in the U.S. illegally. 

“The law abiding illegal immigrants that are already here should be given a fast track to citizenship,” Flowers said. “So overall I’m for it because you always have to take a leap of faith in this situation.”

Government sophomore Allison Kalis, said there are beneficial aspects to the proposal but there is a noticeable lack of bipartisanship.

“Leading good immigrants to citizenship is an American ideal,” Kalis said. “But Republicans don’t want it because they fear that the influx of new citizens will increase the amount of Obama’s constituents and ultimately favor the Democratic Party.”