Obama immigration policy to affect students at USC

Under a new immigration policy announced by President Barack Obama on Friday, undocumented students who came to the United States before the age of 16 and have clean criminal records may seek employment without the threat of deportation.

The policy states that the Department of Homeland Security will discontinue the deportation of younger illegal immigrants and allow them to apply for work permits if they meet certain requirements. In addition to the age and record requirements, eligible immigrants must have lived in the United States for at least five  consecutive years, be in school and be high school graduates or military veterans.

Veronica Terriquez, director of USC’s Chicano and Latino studies program, said the policy may open up new job opportunities for undocumented students with college degrees.

“It appears that undocumented students will be able to access work permits, which may allow them to attain a job commensurate with their educational credentials,” Terriquez said. “This is good news because there are young people who are educated by our public and private school systems, who have college educations and are working at restaurants or are working in the types of jobs that don’t require much education so it’s a waste of talent.”

Gene Bickers, vice provost for undergraduate programs, said the university enrolls both undocumented undergraduate and graduate students.

“There is no specific office that works with them,” Bickers said. “They are regarded the same as any other students in the university.”

Terriquez said USC’s undocumented population is small and that the highest proportion of undocumented students enroll in public community colleges.

Nef Cardenas, a junior at Cerritos College, is researching photochemical reactions as a summer intern at USC. Cardenas said the new policy is “perfect” because students who have graduated with degrees can pursue jobs related to their studies.

“I know people that have master’s [degrees], graduate students, and all they do is wait tables, bag groceries … stuff that pays minimum or below minimum wage,” Cardenas said.

Michelle Tomkovicz, a senior majoring in international relations, said though she is not personally affected by the policy, many of her friends welcomed the change.

“I have a lot of friends back home who said they know some of their friends and families are really happy about it,” Tomkovicz said.

Though Terriquez also said the policy is more economically efficient, she underscored the fact that this fix does not provide a long-term solution for illegal immigration.

“This is positive for the short term, but for the long term there has to be a pathway to citizenship so people can become fully incorporated [into] U.S. society,” Terriquez said.

The policy does not include a pathway to citzenship, as legislation rejected by the Senate in late 2010, known as the DREAM Act, would  have.

5 replies
  1. North University Park
    North University Park says:

    The naysayers seem to have conveniently forgotten that the President took the Dream Act to Congress several times and that it was shot down by a 40% minority in the Senate.

    The 40% minority (this time Republicans) can block any legislation.

    In essence a double veto exists for any legislation, a 40% minority in the Senate and that of the President as well.

    The Senate veto is the threat of the Filibuster, an archaic invention of the 19th Century established about the expansion of Slavery.

    The Senate veto needs to be eliminated.

  2. Trojan
    Trojan says:

    As a supporter of the DREAM act, I thought this article was acceptable. I am disappointed by these conservative comments that call undocumented immigrants “illegals.”

  3. Benjamin Roberts
    Benjamin Roberts says:

    These articles in support of the Dream Act, and the President’s latest immigration policy, are so annoying and often factually inaccurate. This particular article suggests that illegal immigrants with high-level degrees are forced to work at low paying jobs, or jobs requiring little education, because of their illegal status. This makes no sense. Their illegal status means that they are not supposed to be working anywhere in this country at all… regardless of whether it is a skilled and highly paid job, or a low-wage, low-skill job. If in fact, college graduates are working at all (grocery stores, car washes, etc)… then they are clearly working illegally, whether the job is commensurate with their education or not.

    Why do colleges and universities in this country even allow so-called “undocumented” people to apply? Doing so does not comport with any of the laws of our country, and only sets these young people up for failure and disappointment. All foreign students should hold a valid student visa to attend schools in this country. Don’t we already have such a system in place?.. or is that system only intended for people who abide by the law?

    It seems to me that many people’s idea of “immigration reform” means creation of a new set of rules whereby someone who has managed to evade the law for long enough, including four or more years of a college education while “undocumented”, should now be allowed to apply for work without the requisite W-4’s and I-9s that legal citizens are required to complete. I earned my bachelors at USC as a legal immigrant, and as such, I was required to check special boxes on the application and provide my alien registration number and copies of related documents. It infuriates me that I was forced to follow a set of clearly and fairly established rules in order to live, work and get an education in this country… only to see a current generation of greedy, ungrateful and misinformed people plea for a new and separate set of rules.

    Perhaps the next time I apply for a job, I should just tell HR that I refuse to fill out an I-9… and see what they say.

  4. Not in college
    Not in college says:

    The addition of what some say is more than 800,000 illegals who meet the new requirements will be on the job market and will be taking your jobs. In a time of our country’s most dire days, where unemployment for our citizens is at an all time high, Obama just micturated on the US Constitution again with the stroke of a pen. Jobs are scarce already, so why is he allowing more people to be free to take what available jobs there are? College students from the last 2 years are still looking for their 2st job, and you kids are soon going to be out there after graduation looking for non-existent work. You can thank your president for taking away your ability to earn a living, because he just added upwards of 2million people into the workforce over the next few years.

    Oh yes, now I remember why Obama did this. It’s an election year and he cannot run on his leadership abilities and his strong program of economic growth and job creation, so he issues a pandering effort to gain some votes from the Latino community.

    Let’s see now, Pandering to the LGBT movement, the Mexican illegal movement… gosh what’s next? Ya know what? If it’s now OK for gays and lesbians to marry, then I’d like to have 2 legal wives. :-) Yeah, right!

  5. Don Harmon
    Don Harmon says:

    During the past few decades our Presidents and Congress had little interest in stopping illegal immigration and did little to enforce our immigration laws. The Government was apparently content about our porous borders, letting in good and bad illegal immigrants. That Government tacit acceptance of the illegal immigrants does not make the immigrants legal, but it did establish a Government obligation.

    Obligation? Yes. Having accepted the unlawful entry of 12 million illegals and having tolerated them in the US for decades, the Federal Government now owes them. It must come up with a humane, decent and practical solution for absorbing them. Supposing that we can deport millions of these tacitly accepted illegals is not realistic. Finding a way to absorb them as legal Americans is necessary. And yes, of course screen out the violent and other genuine criminals among them, try them, imprison them and deport them.

    President Obama has taken a good first step to resolve the problem. Hopefully, he will lead Congress to continue the process and find a way to absorb the decent illegals and expel the criminals. As for future illegal immigrants, one rule of international relations is especially pertinent. It applies to any country, any nation: A nation has the right to control its own borders, establish laws, and enforce its immigration policy. The degree of accepting legal immigrants is up to the nation. Who else should decide who comes in? Some other nation? Lawbreakers? No. A nation, our nation, has the right to control its own borders.

    Does that mean we should cut immigration, then? No, not if we need more desirable working people who want to be good Americans. Certainly, we need scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs and ordinary, patriotic, hard working people. Exclude Hispanics then? Of course not. They are as deserving of legal immigation here as any other ethnic group. A quota system, or first come first served, or other policy is up to the President and Congress.

    The final point is of course to protect our borders and our country. Not seal the borders, but protect them to the degree that it is extremely difficult for an illegal to enter the US. When we catch them, they should go to prison before being deported. And we need internal laws so that future illegals can be identified and deported.

    Maybe our President has finally started the process of solving the problem. I hope so.

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