Obama’s no-deportation plan for some young immigrants spurs cautious optimism
By Richard Jones, El Hispanic News
Portland, OR — Just when the presidential race began getting dull, President Barack Obama lit a pre-Fourth of July firecracker that seemed to catch presumed Republican nominee-to-be Mitt Romney unprepared.
In the White House Rose Garden on June 15, Obama introduced a limited immigration reform program allowing certain youth immunity from deportation.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who, for all in intents and purposes, are Americans. They’ve been raised as Americans [and] understand themselves to be part of this country. To expel these people who want to staff our labs, to start new companies or defend our country, simply because of the actions of their parents [does not make sense],” Obama said.
In a speech before the National Association of Latino Elected Officials, Romney referred to the plan several times, but left few clues what he would do if elected. The former governor of Massachusetts settled for a non-confrontational approach.
Some opponents described Obama’s plan as “a new law” or “an executive order.”
The Washington, D.C.-based American Immigration Council called such terms inaccurate. The president, the council claimed, “merely directed DHS [Department of Homeland Security] to exercise discretion to grant deferred action to qualified youth — an action that is well within his power as president.”
Others referred to Obama’s plan as “administrative amnesty.”
Kids or not, Obama’s plan stirred up a number of opponents. The Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) wrote, “Ignoring Congress and the American people, President Obama has unconstitutionally and unilaterally granted de-facto amnesty to illegal aliens through an executive order.”
The president’s restraint on deporting young people is, for the time being, just a policy. Congress may — or may not — enact it into law.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote, “Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways.” She added, “Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
A press release from Homeland Security said the plan grants undocumented immigrants immunity from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30 and have been in the country for at least five continuous years. They must have graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED or served in the military. They cannot have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
They also can apply for a work permit that will be valid for two years. The permit can be renewed indefinitely.
The Associated Press said that the plan is close to one previously offered by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
Rubio, a last-minute guest on the Charlie Rose PBS talk show in late June, said that immigration problems were very complex but both major parties were guilty of over-simplifying them.
“The kids are here through no fault of their own,” Rubio said. Therefore, there is no reason to punish them. “This issue of the kids is a humanitarian issue. It’s not just an immigration issue.”
“I wanted to do this in the law and there [are] a lot of details that I’m hopefully going to propose here soon that the president’s plan doesn’t have in place,” he added. “The president’s basically saying, ‘We’re not going to deport you and we’ll give you a work permit for two years and after that you’re back in the same spot you’ve been in.’”
“The problem is that [there] is not a serious effort to deal with this,” Rubio charged.
Oregon-based immigrant rights group Causa was cautiously optimistic about the move. “While this is an exciting moment and a great first step for the immigration reform movement, it is not an ultimate victory,” a Causa press release stated. “This policy expansion still does not provide a path to citizenship for DREAMers and there is still a dire need for a national DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform with a path to legalization. Congress must take action this year and pass these crucial pieces of legislation for the good of the United States.”
A Bloomberg News correspondent, speaking on the PBS Evening News, said that Obama had created a plan that Republicans will find difficult to oppose. “It doesn’t look good for Republicans to come out against kids,” she said, adding rhetorically, “Who doesn’t like kids?”
Este artículo también está disponible en / This post is also available in: Spanish
Short URL: http://www.elhispanicnews.com/?p=4211