The entire issue of immigration has been a mixed bag during the first term of the Obama administration. Immigrant rights activists heap praise upon the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Since officially starting in August 2012, over 150,000 people have received deferred action under DACA.
On the other hand, the Obama administration has seen a record number of deportations; 1.6 million over his first four years in office. Plus, the federal government spent $18 billion on immigration enforcement in the 2012 fiscal year. This exceeds the budgets for the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Agency, the Secret Service, the U.S. Marshals Service and the Bureau for Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives combined.
With new programs yielding tens of thousands of deferments in under six months on one hand, and a four-year record of massive immigration enforcement on the other, it is easy to get a mixed message out of the current administration. However, look for that message to get much clearer very soon.
In his fifteen-minute inaugural address on January 21st, most of President Obama's message focused on unity. But in listing what he saw for the future, President Obama also touched on immigration.
Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity — until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.
David Axelrod, a senior advisor in the Obama administration, has indicated that overall immigration reform is something the president will be tackling early on. Along with other pressing issues like fiscal crises and gun reform, Axelrod indicated that the administration will be moving quickly on immigration. On inauguration day, Axelrod said "[President Obama]'s got a State of the Union in three weeks."
For many of "striving, hopeful immigrant," that address can't come too soon.