By Jim Donahue
President Obama announced his administration’s easing of deportation rules for children that immigrated here as undocumented aliens. He has been under pressure from Hispanic groups to formulate a new plan.
Speaking about the plan during a Campaign stop in Cleveland on Thursday, the President said, “If we truly want to make this country a destination for talent and ingenuity from all over the world, we won’t deport hardworking, responsible young immigrants who have grown up here or received advanced degrees here,” he said. “We’ll let them earn the chance to become American citizens, so they can grow our economy and start new businesses right here instead of someplace else.”
Obama was to set address the new policy from the White House late Friday afternoon. It has been a priority for congressional Democrats, led by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-NV. Director of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano outlined the policy Friday morning.
“Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” Napolitano said. “Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” she said. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.”
Congressional Republicans called it amnesty.
“President Obama’s decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants is a breach of faith with the American people,” commented Lamar Smith, R-Texas. “It also blatantly ignores the rule of law that is the foundation of our democracy. This huge policy shift has horrible consequences for unemployed Americans looking for jobs and also violates President Obama’s oath to uphold the laws of this land.
“President Obama’s amnesty only benefits illegal immigrants, not Americans, and is a magnet for fraud. Many illegal immigrants will falsely claim they came here as children, and the federal government has no way to check whether their claims are true. And once these illegal immigrants are granted deferred action, they can then apply for a work permit, which the administration routinely grants 90 percent of the time.
“How can the administration justify allowing illegal immigrants to work in the U.S. when millions of Americans are unemployed? President Obama and his administration once again have put partisan politics and illegal immigrants ahead of the rule of law and the American people. With this track record, it’s looking more likely that even President Obama may lose his job in this economy when Americans go to the polls this November.”
Secretary Napolitano denied the charge.
“This … is not immunity. This is not amnesty,” she said. “It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not placed in removal proceedings. We are a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
With respect to these young people, deferred action is simply the right thing to do.”
The timing of the announcement is reportedly tied to the November election.
The Department of Homeland Security announcement said in part:
The department continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. Today’s action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:
1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5. Are not above the age of thirty.