Based on my tiny, unscientific poll of three undocumented immigrants (sorry, Mr. Kobach, but I can’t recall their names), the president’s “temporary” relief for some immigrants is not going over all that well.
In fact, we will be lucky if one out of five of the 5 million come out of the shadows.
The reason: They are wary. No, make that scared.
None of the three, as it stands now, is willing to come forth and declare themselves in order to receive a shaky status that they feel can be taken away from them. They fear any effort to obtain this impermanent and incomplete status could ultimately lead to the exact opposite effect: their deportation. The rewards to them do not outweigh the risk.
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Each of the three, whom I talked to independently in their best English and my best Spanish, thinks this could end up being a trap.
They do not know all the details. Neither do most of us. But they hear enough words like “temporary” and “court challenge” and “congressional opposition” to know things are anything but settled.
What if? That’s what they want to know.
Indeed. What if Congress is able to de-fund the so-called amnesty? No one knows what will come out of Congress, but with all the bravado, it appears the new Republican-majority Congress will try to do something to block the president’s program. In any case, without knowing any of the details, the threats coming out of Congress have these undocumented immigrants plenty concerned.
Or what if the courts decide what the president did by executive order is unconstitutional? You think these immigrants do not understand enough of the judicial system to grasp that the whole program can be declared null and void? They get it completely.
They know lawsuits are being filed, left and right, to challenge the executive order. Leading the way is the infamous Kansas secretary of state, Kris Kobach, who is a constitutional expert and is obsessed with those he calls “illegal aliens.”
What if the next president decides to rescind Barack Obama’s executive order? There is nothing to say that could not happen. It could very well occur that the next president is from the right wing of the Republican Party.
And what happens after this “temporary” work-status expires? What then?
Here’s another real-life uncertainty.
Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, quoted in The New York Times, said he did not believe he or the Kansas Legislature would approve driver’s licenses to these “illegal immigrants.” So, on a practical basis, how is someone in Kansas with a work permit supposed to successfully labor when he or she cannot drive? How many other states will take the same position?
If any of these scenarios occur, or others that are not contemplated at this moment, suddenly these individuals, like millions of others, would find themselves revealed to all with no assurance that they are safe from deportation, despite Obama’s best intentions.
Put yourself in their shoes.
Would you, under these murky circumstances, declare yourself for all to see that you are here illegally?
Would you take that chance that all will end well for the 5 million who are supposed to come out of the shadows?
I can tell you, with some certainty, I would be very reluctant to take that plunge. I would wait and see, over time, how this plays out.
That’s why I think the numbers coming out of the shadows will be only a fraction of those who are supposedly home free by an executive order.
What was supposed to be a glorious grand plan for 5 million undocumented immigrants has a lot of people, like the three I met, merely shaking their heads.
To reach Steve Rose, a longtime Johnson County columnist, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.