A move by U.S. Rep. Tim Bishop, D-Southampton, to offer to help young illegal immigrants qualify for President Obama's and avoid being deported was slammed this week by Randy Altschuler, R-Smithtown, Bishop's opponent in the next election. Locals, however, are mixed on whether they believe the congressman's offer of aid is a bad idea.
"Randy Altschuler is taking his campaign strategy from the Tea Party," said Mike Anthony, a member of the Hamptons Bays-based Neighbors in Support of Immigrants and former chair of the Southampton Town Democratic Party. "It's surprising that an international businesssman ... can't recognize the economic benefits of offering young immigrants legal status until Congress acts in a positive way."
Anthony cited a report from the North American Integration and Development Center at UCLA that indicates the policy will generate billions in economic growth.
Meanwhile, Amagansett resident Lynda Edwards said she believes the issue should be settled in Congress before any action is taken. "I'm not happy that Bishop's involved at all. I don't think it's an appropriate thing for him to be doing," she said.
President Obama last week surprised the country when he announced a plan to stop deporting young illegal immigrants that would allow some of the more than 800,000 immigrants who came to the country as children to obtain work visas. The policy decision was not met with celebration by Republicans.
"Congressman Bishop’s announcement today is a slap in the face to the more than 30,000 Long Islanders who have lost their jobs since he took office nearly 10 years ago,” Altschuler said. "While his constituents are in the midst of a deep and sustained economic crisis, Tim Bishop is using taxpayer-funded employees in his office to implement President Obama’s unilateral, backdoor amnesty program for illegal immigrants.
Bishop annnounced that a full-time caseworker employed by his office is standing by to assist young poeople seeking temporary legal status announced Friday by Obama that would stop deportation of some illegals.
"I voted to pass the DREAM Act in the House, and I support the President taking executive action to give young people who came to America as children a chance to legally contribute to our society," Bishop said. "This is a positive development for fairness in our immigration policy."
In order to be eligible, young people must have arrived in the United States under the age of 16, have resided in the United States continually for at least five years, be currently in school or have graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or be honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces, have not been convicted of a felony or significant or multiple misdemeanors, must not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and cannot be over the age of 30.
The policy is currently in effect and implication of the application process is expected to commence within 60 days.
Elaine Kahl, founder of the Suffolk County Coalition for Legal Immigration/No Amnesty and Citizens Forum, said she was unsettled by Bishop's actions. "While some congressmen have wisely condemned the President's illegal amnesty, it is disturbing that Tim Bishop has doubled down on Obama's cheap political trick to reward illegal aliens," she said.
Southampton resident John Bouvier said although Altschuler spoke out against Bishop's support of the DREAM Act, the legislation was "an idea, by the way, that Randy’s own supporters in the GOP defended during the recent Republican debates."
Sylvia Baruch, founder of NISI, said the economic impacts of Obama's policy are positive. "Putting talented and educated young people into the economic system and having them pay taxes is a good way to improve the economic climate and productivity of Long Island and the country. Besides, as President Obama said, this is the right thing to do--morality counts as much as economics."
Where do you stand on the issue and how it relates to the upcoming 1st Congressional District Race?
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