Well, almost. President Barack Obama, who has deported more undocumented immigrants than any president since 1892, will stop deporting hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children:
The policy, effective immediately, will apply to people who are currently under 30 years old, who arrived in the country before they turned 16 and have lived in the United States for five years. They must also have no criminal record, and have earned a high school diploma, remained in school or served in the military.
These qualifications resemble in some ways those of the so-called Dream Act, a measure blocked by Congress in 2010 that was geared to establish a path toward citizenship for certain young illegal immigrants. The administration’s action on Friday, which stops deportations but does not offer citizenship, is being undertaken by executive order and does not require legislation. It was announced by the Department of Homeland Security.
What the younger immigrants will obtain, officials said, is the ability to apply for a two-year “deferred action” that effectively removes the threat of deportation for up to two years, with repeated extensions. “This is not immunity, it is not amnesty,” said Janet Napolitano, the homeland security secretary. “It is an exercise of discretion.”
Why now? Political expediency. Obama needs the Latino vote:
The Obama administration has failed to deliver on its promise to lift the threat of deportation for law-abiding undocumented immigrants, according to an alliance of Hispanic and civil rights leaders who warn that disappointment among Latino voters could damage the president’s chances of being re-elected.
A new report from the Fair Immigration Reform Movement (Firm) (pdf) criticises the department of homeland security for failing to implement its own policy that switched the target of deportations onto serious criminal offenders, or the “worst of the worst”.
Firm concludes that the lack of implementation could “undermine the credibility of President Obama’s standing with Latino and immigrant communities nationwide“.
[C]onsider Obama’s 2008 campaign promise that he would tackle immigration reform his first year in office. He now has to explain why he failed to do this: “The challenge we’ve got on immigration reform,” Obama said in a Univision interview last month, “is very simple. I’ve got a majority of Democrats who are prepared to vote for it. And I’ve got no Republicans who are prepared to vote for it.”
That is a bold faced lie:
The DREAM Act would have passed if Democrats had shown unity on the measure.
But five Democrats voted against the legislation: Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and both Montana Democrats, Jon Tester and Max Baucus. West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin announced his opposition to the DREAM Act Saturday in a statement Saturday but missed the vote.
Three Republicans crossed party lines to vote for the bill: Indiana Sen. Richard Lugar, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Utah Sen. Bob Bennett.
Maybe if Obama had put some pressure on those 5 “Democrats” the bill would have passed.
The Obama administration claims that the number are up because they are focused on deporting criminals is another lie: Most of the immigrants who were deported were Latinos and not criminals:
[L]ess than 50 percent of the people removed have a criminal conviction, according to the Homeland Security Department’s own statistics. For example, 387,000 people were deported in 2010, of which only 169,000 had committed a crime. The statistics also show that the large majority of deportations are Latinos. Roughly 73 percent are from Mexico, 8 percent from Guatemala, 6 percent from Honduras and 5 percent from El Salvador.
Remember, this is a president who talks indignantly about the immigration enforcement laws passed by GOP legislators in Arizona, Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina – calling them “misdirected” and “bad law.” He has even instructed his Justice Department to challenge them in court.
This is good news for those undocumented immigrants who came to this country as children with their families. It is a step forward in solving a problem that Obama could have done three and half years ago without congressional approval but has chosen to do it now just to get the Latino community vote. The one thing it is not, a step towards citizenship. Hypocrite.