ST JOHN’S, Antigua – Stakeholders on the frontlines of the deportation battle say that the new United States “deferred action” policy is just the first step in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform.
“This is a temporary move by the president (Barack Obama), but it sets the stage for something more permanent,” Dr McChesney Emanuel, Consul General for Antigua & Barbuda in New York said in an interview with OBSERVER Media.
He added, “I applaud what he has done. Certainly, I know many of them (illegal immigrants) would breathe a sigh of relief.”
Dr Emanuel is currently in Antigua & Barbuda on a special assignment with the Ministry of Finance, serving as Chairman of the Antigua & Barbuda Investment Authority (ABIA).
However, in his capacity as consul general, the processing of Antiguan & Barbudan citizens slated for deportation must be handled through the New York consulate.
Since the Barack Obama administration, Emanuel said he has witnessed an increase in the incidents of deportation. He indicated that this has been a “subject of discussion” with his contemporaries in other consulates.
“The Obama administration really was very aggressive on deportation, so the numbers skyrocketed … The increase would have been significant,” Dr Emanuel said.
The consul general noted that, in his estimation, the resolution to the US deportation dilemma lies in the passage of the much debated Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
“I think really the DREAM Act actually contains exactly what we needed to bring these young people into the mainstream of the United States and give them an opportunity at the American dream. It forms the basis for any kind of regularising of these peoples’ status, ” the consul general said.
The DREAM Act is an immigration reform Bill favoured by the Obama Administration that would set the path for the eventual integration of illegal youth into American society. The Bill was passed in the House of Representatives in 2010, but failed in the Senate.
(More in today’s Daily OBSERVER)