Immigration: What now?

By Ariel Rymer and Marysa Burchett

A controversial topic from the beginning of the election was, and still is, immigration. Now that the results are in and Obama has another four years, the Western North Carolina community gives their opinions on the future demographics and immigration reform.

“Hispanics and the Hispanic population traditionally should vote republican but do not because of the immigration issue, because most of them are socially conservative. They’re not really big into the government involved in their life,” said Jeremiah Mosteller, president of the Economics Club and member of the WCU College Republicans.

Pew Research Center said in a study that president Obama had 71% of Hispanic voters whereas Romney had only 27% of their vote. Due to the Democrats’ stance on immigration and immigration reform, it challenges the Republican Party to capture the Hispanic voters. This seems to be a reoccurring issue for the GOP and will be for the next elections to come.

Todd Collins, Director of WCU's Public Policy Institute. Photo by Ben Haines.

“The demographics of the country are changing. Even on election night, you had some of the Republican Party saying, ‘we can’t be a party of just one particular race. We have to be more open in terms of gender issues and in terms of immigration issues.’ They are going to have to open up some of their policies and be more moderate in some of these stances,” said Dr. Todd Collins, professor at the WCU political science department. “There is some movement in the Republican party which hasn’t been there in the last several years to create some pathways that will help out with this [immigration].” Collins thinks that the GOP will begin to moderate their stances on immigration, because of the results of the election.

“As the demographics are changing, the Republican Party will either change or lose,” said Political Science and Public Affairs department head, Dr. Chris Cooper. He agrees with Collins on the fact that Republicans need to moderate on the issue of immigration.

Lacey Mann, a junior who voted for Obama says that if the person has documentation and a green card she does not mind if they stay. But if they are undocumented they need to leave.

Mary Breaker referenced the movie “A day without Mexicans” as an example of the effects of an exodus of illegal immigrants.

“I do not think that kicking them out is the answer because they are willing to do jobs that Americans do not want. Examples of positions that immigrants are willing to take are cook, maid, or nanny jobs,” she said.

President Obama implemented a new program this summer called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, (DACA) which initiates a temporary authorization for a legal status. If the individual qualifies, they will receive a 2-year grace period that will allow them to possibly obtain a social security number and work in hopes to continue their life in the United States.

The Obama administration is attempting to pass a bill by the name of the “DREAM Act.” DREAM stands for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors and was originally introduced in the early 2000s but it never passed. This piece of legislation offers a permanent residency after 2 years of serving in the military or receiving a college education.

Melanie Mace, an immigration lawyer of Waynesville, NC, has already seen well over 100 people apply for the deferred action. She thinks DACA is a Band-Aid to the real problem of immigration. Mace said the Obama administration would push forward with the DREAM act but would like to see a serious comprehensive immigration reform.

“I think the DREAM act is one the first comprehensive pieces of legislation on immigration that you can get a majority of people to agree to because it is a specific target of people,” said WCU alum, Andy Miller, former member of College Democrats.

Students of Latin American Student Organization (LASO) of WCU feel that the DREAM act should be implemented because it is a more stable option for their friends and family.

Both Collins and Cooper think that Obama will push forward with the DREAM act in hopes to accomplish his goals and to make a lasting legacy.

With contribution from Marquis Emmerson