Obama’s executive actions to improve lives, boost the economy

In Mexico, Antonio Campo studied to be a graphic designer. After seeing there weren’t many jobs available, he began working part time as a college…

Bety Martinez, from Peru, celebrates outside the White House following President Obama’s speech on November 20, 2014. The White House says the president’s executive actions on immigration will help improve people’s lives and boost the nation’s economy. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post)

In Mexico, Antonio Campo studied to be a graphic designer. After seeing there weren’t many jobs available, he began working part time as a college professor. But he wasn’t earning enough money to pay the house mortgage or to feed his family.

Seeking a better life, he and his wife decided to immigrate to the United States with their 11-month-old daughter. They’ve been living in Sacramento, Calif., without a legal status since 1995.

“I came here for the same reason that drive others to come—because of hunger,” he said in an interview with VOXXI. “When you don’t have food on your plate, you start thinking about going up north.”

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Once in California, he began working as a janitor and eventually he and his wife started a small business cleaning apartments.

Over the years, their family grew. The couple now has two more daughters: an 18-year-old and a 7-year-old, both U.S. citizens. Their oldest, who’s 20 years old, is a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects undocumented youth from deportation and allows them to work.

Now, 19 years after immigrating to the United States, Campo and his wife continue living in limbo because of their undocumented status. That soon might change, however, as they are prime candidates of President Barack Obama’s immigration executive actions that seek to protect up to 5 million undocumented immigrants, including the parents of U.S. citizens and legal permanent residents, from deportation and allow them to work.

The White House stated on Friday that the president’s actions would not only improve the lives of many immigrants, like Campo, but also boost the economy.

It pointed to an analysis by the Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) that found Obama’s executive actions on immigration could boost economic output by an estimated 0.4 percent to 0.9 percent over 10 years. That corresponds to increases in the gross domestic product (GDP) of $90 billion to $210 billion in 2024.

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The White House also said the president’s actions are expected to grow the economy by increasing the productivity of all American workers. It said that could happen in part by allowing undocumented workers “to come out of the shadows and find jobs that better match their skills and potential.”

“This shift of workers across occupations will also allow more native workers to specialize in the tasks best suited to their abilities,” the White House stated. “These effects are likely to lead to wage increases for all workers—immigrants and natives alike.”

In addition, the White House said it expects the president’s actions on immigration will increase the size of the American workforce, increase wages for all workers and reduce the deficit by $25 billion in 2024.

Campo said being able to get a work permit under Obama’s executive actions would improve the quality of life for him and his family. It would allow him to grow his business and make more money, therefore, contributing more to the nation’s economy and paying more in taxes. It would also protect him from deportation and eliminate the fear of being separated from his family.

He also said that while he is grateful for the president’s actions, Congress still has work to do to pass an immigration reform bill that provides a permanent solution.

“There has to be a path to citizenship because what is going to happen when I turn 65?” said Campo, who is 50 years old. “What am I going to live off of? I’m no going to have a right to a retirement.”

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