State of the Union Address Stirs Mixed Response from Immigrant Rights Advocates

President Barack Obama’s January 24 State of the Union Address met with mixed reactions from immigration advocates. While many were happy to hear Obama allude to his support for the Dream Act and tout his recent trade agreements with Central American countries, others believed that his statements didn’t cover enough.

Obama’s firmest stance was on providing paths to U.S. Citizenship and immigration services to young undocumented residents in the United States.

“Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away,” Obama said.

Tying the country’s economic woes to current immigration policies, Obama firmly stated that regulations hindering the dreams of some of the United States’ most talented youths need to be eliminated.

“We should support everyone who’s willing to work; and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs,” Obama asserted.

While happy with Obama’s support of citizenship rights for younger undocumented residents, several immigration advocates were upset or discouraged to hear vague statements, or none at all, about other issues confronting the U.S. immigrant population.

For example, binational LGBT families got little attention in Obama’s speech, and some were disheartened to hear no affirming words by way of immigration reform for them.

“The president laid out an eloquent vision this evening of an America where everyone plays by the same rules, and shares the same opportunities and chances. The tens of thousands of LGBT binational couples who live every day with the threat of separation, or are already separated or in exile, want nothing more than that,” said Immigration Equality spokesperson Steve Ralls to the Washington Blade.