When the DREAM Act died in Congress many feared of what would come of the thousands of children, many now adults, who unwittingly were not citizens when their parents brought them illegally to the United States. Many, not knowing their status until their mid-to-late teens, found pathways to careers and college closed as they lived in constant fear of deportation from the only home they've ever known. Circumventing Congress, the Obama Administration announced Friday they would stop deporting certain younger illegal immigrants who fit a specific criteria: those who were brought here at age 16 or younger; are presently age 30 or younger; have no criminal record; have been in the US for at least five continuative years; and have either a GED, a U.S. high school diploma or have served in the military.
The decision will potentially affect some 800,000 people, finally setting in motion -- at least partially -- what the DREAM Act hoped to do -- finally allowing some breathing room for those trapped in the shadows of our society by no fault of their own.
From the Associated Press:
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the DREAM Act.
"Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways," Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration's action. "Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
Since this is an election year, there's no doubt there will be a lot of discussion of how and why and when and definitely whether or not this will affect the president's support among minority voters -- specifically Latinos who have become the face of the immigration debate.
While Obama's support among Latinos remains high, enthusiasm was low, as many disapproved of how the president's administration handled deportations, with a rate of 59 percent disapproving. So, along with raising some spirits, there will be the usual speculations about intent and timing. But for those stuck in the administrative hell that is our deportation process, it's better late than never.
Naturally, Congressional Republicans will probably stomp their fists and throw fits, but they could have offered up their own solution to this many, many times over or could have compromised on the DREAM Act, but it's been an open secret that the GOP intended on disapproving air if the president endorsed oxygen.
From a review of the book "It's Even Worse Than It Looks" that addresses how the modern GOP came to hold government hostage in their thirst for power:
Their principal conclusion is unequivocal: Today’s Republicans in Congress behave like a parliamentary party in a British-style parliament, a winner-take-all system. But a parliamentary party — “ideologically polarized, internally unified, vehemently oppositional” — doesn’t work in a “separation-of-powers system that makes it extremely difficult for majorities to work their will.”
These Republicans “have become more loyal to party than to country,” the authors write, so “the political system has become grievously hobbled at a time when the country faces unusually serious problems and grave threats. . . . The country is squandering its economic future and putting itself at risk because of an inability to govern effectively.”
Today’s Republican Party has little in common even with Ronald Reagan’s GOP, or with earlier versions that believed in government. Instead it has become “an insurgent outlier — ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise; unpersuaded by conventional understanding of facts, evidence and science; and dismissive of the legitimacy of its political opposition . . . all but declaring war on the government.”
So the push back will reek of hypocrisy, as the president tried to get Congressional Republicans to work with the executive branch and Congressional Democrats in hashing out a mutually agreed upon solution to our serious immigration woes and they -- like with everything from the economy to our health care -- said "Thanks, but no thanks."
When you chose not to act, you essentially chose whatever is the outcome of that inaction, but don't hold your breath waiting for anyone to point that out.