Immigration reform has been long debated among United States lawmakers, with little result. President Obama has grown impatient and recently announced his plan for some of the immigration issues currently affecting the over 11 million undocumented immigrants living across the country, including those here in California. Even though this executive action is facing scrutiny from all sides, millions of immigrants may benefit if this plan is effectuated.

President Obama’s plan covered four key issues: granting legal status to 5 million immigrants, enhanced border security, increased immigration enforcement and changes to high-tech work visas. At least two of these targeted reforms can help immigrants in their fight to remain in the country. In granting up to five million immigrants legal status, many will qualify to receive work permits, Social Security Numbers and the ability to travel in and out of the country. Part of this will be made possible by the expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Changes to visa policies for high-tech jobs will make it easier for foreign workers and their family members to work and live in the country. New changes to these visa rules would make it easier for immigrants to switch jobs if they desire and allow their spouses to enter the country and also obtain employment. This, along with granting legal status to millions, will help keep families together.

Not all aspects of President Obama’s immigration reform plan will directly benefit immigrants but may help with immigration issues in the future. Unfortunately, should this plan be implemented, there are many here in California who will still live in fear of deportation. Legal help is available to all those who do and to those in need of immigration assistance, particularly with respect to the proposed changes.

Source: USA Today, “Highlights from Obama’s immigration plan“, Alan Gomez, Nov. 20, 2014