Thursday, 20 November 2014

Kenyans in the US illegally expected to benefit from Obama move on immigration.Drive Hot News



 The US-Mexico border wall in Calexico, California, on November 19, 2014. US President Barack Obama plans to announce executive action on immigration reform Thursday evening. As many as five million undocumented immigrants could, on a temporary basis, be granted work permits and exempted from deportation.



Thousands of Kenyans living in the United States illegally are waiting with bated breath as President Barack Obama prepares to deliver a speech on Thursday touching on undocumented immigrants.
On Wednesday, the White House announced that President Obama would deliver a key speech on Thursday on the matter at a high school in the state of Nevada.
In the speech, he is expected to outline the actions he intends to take to allow over five million undocumented immigrants to live in the US.
The move would allow the immigrants to stay in the US, at least temporarily, without the threat of deportation.
The planned move has drawn criticism from his political detractors across the United States and beyond.
For the past two weeks, Republicans in Congress have been looking at ways to stop Obama from carrying out these anticipated actions, arguing that only Congress should initiate such moves through legislation.
RELIEF FROM DEPORTATION
And although the contents of his speech — expected later in the day in Las Vegas — had not been made public by Thursday morning, most people the Nation spoke to were optimistic that Kenyans and other immigrants would benefit from the anticipated executive order.
On Thursday, US mainstream media reported that President Obama was poised to give relief from deportation to millions of undocumented immigrants who are parents of US citizens or of permanent legal residents, quoting sources familiar with White House deliberations.
The controversial executive order is likely to stress that he wants to focus efforts on deportations of illegal residents with serious criminal backgrounds and explain why the president has found it prudent to circumvent Congress.
Mr Obama has repeatedly warned that he would take unilateral steps to fix immigration problems “because Republicans in Congress have refused to pass legislation”.
He also has said that even with his unilateral steps, Congress could still replace his measures with permanent legislation.
When Mr Obama became president in 2008, many Kenyans, and indeed other nationals living in the US illegally, pegged their hopes of becoming legal residents on the Democratic Party’s good will.
However, Republicans and other opponents of comprehensive immigration reforms have consistently opposed Mr Obama’s propositions.
STUDENT VISAS
Many Kenyans living in the US came here on student visas but opted to pursue other opportunities without regularising their immigration status.
They have, for years, failed to travel to Kenya for both social and business purposes because of fears that they would be unable to regain entry to the US.
“When people get the proper documentation, it gives them the ability to release money to invest knowing that they can come back and see what is being done,” said Ihara Kihara, a Kenyan who used to live in the US but has since relocated back to Kenya.
President Obama has been pushing Congress to act on what is referred to as a “broken" immigration system. In a recent speech in Washington, DC, Mr Obama said the time had come for him to act.
“The time has come for common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. The time is now,” he said.
Talk about comprehensively reforming the US immigration system has stirred hope among Kenyans living illegally in the world’s biggest economy that they could finally be on the path to attaining legal status.
The move would help them travel freely, spurring investments in their motherland and unlocking their potential in their adopted land.
'VERY PRODUCTIVE'
Last year, Kenya’s then ambassador to the US, Elkanah Odembo, said attaining legal status for the thousands of Kenyans in the US would greatly benefit their motherland.
“This can only be good because a significant number of Kenyans do not have their legal papers and many of (them) are very productive,” said Mr Odembo in a telephone interview.
“Many of the Kenyans living in the US and who are out of status went as students from the 1990s and, for a variety of reasons, did not return home when their visas expired,” added the envoy.
Opponents of a blanket amnesty have argued that it is unfair to give legal status to those who have broken the law while those who have “been waiting in line to come to the US legally are denied a chance”.