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Obama Immigration Shift Should = “NY Economic Gain”

June 18, 2012

NEW YORK - Some local advocates say New York can expect to see an economic boost following Friday's decision by President Obama to halt deportations for most young, undocumented high school graduates. Walter Barrientos, a former undocumented New York student and a founding board member of the United We Dream Network, says New York has already invested plenty of money in educating undocumented young people. He says the new policy announced by President Obama should increase access to higher education and the labor market for these undocumented students. As a result, Barrientos predicts, the state should receive a greater economic return on the dollars it has already invested.

"New York is one of the states with one of the biggest populations of undocumented immigrant youth in the country. This is only going to improve the benefit our economy is able to garner from the talent and drive that so many immigrant youth and immigrant families in our state have."

Obama's executive order would allow most undocumented high school graduates under age 30 who have a clean record to get a two-year work permit. Obama's Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, says he prefers a more long-term solution to immigration reform.

It's no surprise that some Republicans are raising questions about whether Obama's executive order is legal, Barrientos says, because this is a politically charged election year.

"We're debating a president making sure that our system doesn't deport the wrong people, while we have a Supreme Court deciding that corporations can be considered people in our political system. It's definitely something for the American people to reflect on: Which decision really represents the values of our country?"

Barrientos grew up on Long Island as an undocumented student, but now has a visa. He works with the North Star Fund, New York City's community foundation.

While he credits Obama with taking bold action, Barrientos notes it's only an appetizer. He says immigrants and their supporters will not rest until there is a true path to citizenship.

More information is available at www.UnitedWeDream.org.


Mike Clifford, Public News Service - NY