Illegal Immigration Not an Issue for Legal Immigrants in New York

Peter Fedynsky

Immigration has been a contentious issue in a number of U.S. presidential primaries, especially in states with high concentrations of undocumented immigrants. It was not a factor in New York, however, which is home to millions of legal immigrants. The state’s Republican voters Tuesday gave their support to presumptive nominee Mitt Romney, who took a tough stance on illegal immigration in earlier primaries.   Legal immigrants in New York shared their thoughts about illegal immigration.    

Mudassar Khan came to the United States from Pakistan as a teenager and now owns an electronics store in New York City. He said his family waited 12 years for legal permission to immigrate, but he sympathizes with those who immigrate illegally.

“There has to be some desperation there in order for them to do something like that," he said.

Illegal Immigration quandary

Khan said illegal immigration is not an issue among South Asian immigrants in the neighborhood where his store is located, but he recognizes the dilemma posed by illegal immigrants.

“I’m not even for giving them a legal status over here, but there has to be something in between in order for us to keep it a fair game,” he said.

But defining fairness is controversial. Critics say illegal aliens violate the law, take jobs away from Americans and must be deported. Filipino-American immigration attorney J.T. Mallonga disagrees.

“You can’t deport all 12 million, nor can you jail all 12 million. But at this point in time, there is no avenue for them to address their legal residency issues," said Mallonga.

Issue becomes 'political football'

A bill before the U.S. Senate called the DREAM Act proposes a path to citizenship for young illegal immigrants who finish high school or serve in the military. But many Republicans oppose it, including presidential contender Romney.

“I like people coming here legally. And so I will secure the border with a fence, make sure we have enough border patrol agents to secure that fence, and I will also crack down on employers that hire people who are here illegally,” said Romney.

The Obama administration has deported a record number of illegal aliens, about 400,000 per year. A new study by the Pew Hispanic Center indicates that the number of illegal Mexican immigrants in the United States is declining. Even if immigration remains a volatile issue in an election year, though, Khan doesn't expect much to change.

“I’ve seen that in a lot of elections. They make a topic of it. When it comes down to doing something about it, nothing has been done. I think they’ll use this to get some votes, again, and when the election is over, they’ll probably forget about it and nothing major will happen,” he said.

And in New York, it's not likely to affect who wins the presidential race. Even Republicans concede that the state's millions of legal immigrants likely will vote for Obama’s reelection.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Joel Wischkaemper
April 25, 2012 6:14 PM
The Dream Act is an insult to the American People and a reward to the illegal aliens which is why it is an insult to the American People. It will be expensive for the Taxpayer, and in the end, instead of the Parents who did the criminal deed paying for the crime, the American Taxpayer will pay for the Crime. Harry Reid set this up and it is not fair to the American People.

by: Mike
April 25, 2012 3:42 PM
Legal immigrants usually resent the illegal immigrants who ignore the law and try to spin their situation into a sob case or some kind of rights-issue. If the law is just an "opinion" then why should we arrest anyone? Why follow any law? Unless of course you are a hypocrit or a believer in situational ethics.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemeni
Henry Ridgwell
October 12, 2015 4:03 PM
The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video Amnesty Accuses Saudi Coalition of ‘War Crimes’ in Yemen

The human rights group Amnesty International has accused the Saudi-led coalition of war crimes in airstrikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen. Henry Ridgwell reports the group says hundreds of civilians have been killed in strikes on residential areas.

Video No Resolution in Sight to US House Speaker Drama

Uncertainty grips the U.S. Congress, where no consensus replacement has emerged to succeed Republican House Speaker John Boehner after his surprise resignation announcement. Half of Congress is effectively leaderless weeks before America risks defaulting on its national debt and enduring another partial government shutdown.

Video New Art Exhibit Focuses on Hope

Out of struggle and despair often comes hope. That idea is behind a new art exhibit at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland. "The Big Hope Show" features 25 artists, some of whom overcame trauma and loss. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Columbus Day Still Generates Controversy as US Holiday

The second Monday of October is Columbus Day in the United States, honoring explorer Christopher Columbus and his discovery of the Americas. The achievement is a source of pride for many, but for some the holiday is marked by controversy. Adrianna Zhang has more.

Video Anger Simmers as Turks Begin to Bury Blast Victims

The Turkish army carried out new air strikes on Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets on Sunday, a day after the banned group announced a unilateral cease fire. The air raids apparently are in retaliation for the Saturday bombing in Turkey's capital Ankara that killed at least 95 people and wounded more than 200 others. But as Zlatica Hoke reports, there are suspicions that Islamic State is involved.

Video Bombings a Sign of Turkey’s Deep Troubles

Turkey has begun a three-day period of mourning following Saturday’s bomb attacks in the capital, Ankara, that killed nearly 100 people. With contentious parliamentary elections three weeks away, the attacks highlight the challenges Turkey is facing as it struggles with ethnic friction, an ongoing migrant crisis, and growing tensions with Russia. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Afghanistan’s Progress Aided by US Academic Center

Recent combat in Afghanistan has shifted world attention back to the central Asian nation’s continuing civil war and economic challenges. But, while there are many vexing problems facing Afghanistan’s government and people, a group of academics in Omaha, Nebraska has kept a strong faith in the nation’s future through programs to improve education. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Omaha, Nebraska.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video In 'He Named Me Malala,' Guggenheim Finds Normal in Extraordinary

Davis Guggenheim’s documentary "He Named Me Malala" offers a probing look into the life of 18-year-old Malala Yousafsai, the Pakistani teenager who, in 2012, was shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up for her right to education in her hometown in Pakistan's Swat Valley. Guggenheim shows how, since then, Malala has become a symbol not as a victim of brutal violence, but as an advocate for girls’ education throughout the world. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.

Video Paintable Solar Cells May Someday Replace Silicon-Based Panels

Solar panels today are still factory-manufactured, with the use of some highly toxic substances such as cadmium chloride. But a researcher at St. Mary’s College, Maryland, says we are close to being able to create solar panels by painting them on a suitable surface, using nontoxic solutions. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs