Here’s how President Barack Obama laid out a new immigration policy last week.
Good afternoon, everybody. This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just — specifically for certain young people sometimes called “Dreamers.”
These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents — sometimes even as infants — and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license, or a college scholarship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.
That’s what gave rise to the DREAM Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, if you’ve been here for five years, and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. And I have said time and time and time again to Congress that, send me the DREAM Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.
Now, both parties wrote this legislation. And a year and a half ago, Democrats passed the DREAM Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it. It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn’t really changed. The need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to do. The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics.
This humane policy makes sense. And hopefully President Obama will start doing this in other areas. Especially in economic policy where the American people need it most.
Of course the right wing GOP has overreacted to this, Obama Amnesty Plan Not Legally Valid.
President Barak Obama’s plan to unilaterally grant amnesty to an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants is in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and is not legally valid, according to House Republican Conference Secretary John Carter (TX31).
Of course it’s the obstructionism of GOP members like Carter that has forced Obama’s hand. And Carter is unlikely to ever want to pass a law that punishes employers. That was the main focus of the Texas GOP’s platform change on immigration.
This new policy led Latino Lista to ask, Has Obama sewn up the Latino vote?
As expected, and what the White House hoped for, there was euphoric reaction to the news from the young people the new policy impacts to their supporters and sympathizers. There has also been cynicism from some in the Latino community, who remembered the same kind of wide-spread celebration when it was announced last year that a policy of prosecutorial discretion would be implemented in deportation cases by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, that lead to disappointment with ICE Director John Morton admitting earlier this year to the House Subcommittee on Homeland Security that only 1% of pending deportation cases had been tabled under the new guidelines.
Some in the Latino community fear that the same will happen this time. I doubt it.
There’s too much at stake, namely the Latino vote.
At this stage of the game, no one is naive enough to think there wasn’t political motivation behind this action. Clearly, the Obama campaign was feeling the heat from Latino voters on two distinct fronts — the sit-ins at his state campaign headquarters by DREAMer students demanding that Obama do something to stop the deportations of undocumented youth and the growing indifference among Latino voters about this election.
Knowing the importance we place on our children and families and that the DREAM Act is an issue that the majority of Americans support, Obama and his campaign made a smart strategic move.
In fact, the new policy resembles an alternative plan proposed by GOP Sen. Marco Rubio in that it doesn’t grant a path to citizenship for these students nor provides for amnesty.
Of course, it wasn’t long before some GOP members issued critical statements about the new policy and the President and some have even threatened a lawsuit against Obama.
Yet this move by the President, without a doubt, stirred a majority of the Latino electorate into start thinking about the election. If this deferment is enacted — immediately, as the President said in his remarks — and the greater community sees that young people are not being deported and are, in fact, being granted work permits, then it’s a safe bet that a portion of the Latino community will show their appreciation with their votes in November.
This is definitely a step in the right direction. And President Obama’s likely challenger in November won’t answer questions about whether or not he’d keep this policy, among others, in place if elected.