Obama To Stop Deportation Of Some Younger Illegal Immigrants
The announcement was met with praise from Latino leaders who have been critical of Congress and the White House for not moving forward with immigration reform, and sparked criticism from Republicans who said the move is a form of amnesty, CNN reported. The change in policy is expected to be heavily debated leading up to the November presidential election.
President Obama, while speaking to reporters at the White House Rose Garden Friday afternoon, said the changes would make the immigration system “more efficient, more fair and more just,” according to The New York Times.
The new Department of Homeland Security policy would apply to people under 30 years old who came to the U.S. before the age of 16 and have lived in the country for five years. They must also have no prior criminal record, earned a high school diploma and be in school or have served in the military, The N.Y. Times reported.
Obama’s immigration order could apply to as many as 800,000 illegal immigrants, MSNBC reported. The Pew Hispanic Center said as many as 1.4 million children and young adults – or about 12 percent of the 11.2 million illegal immigrants estimated to be in the U.S. in 2010 — could meet eligibility requirements, according to MSNBC.
Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida and potential vice presidential selection, said Obama’s policy is “a short-term answer to a long-term problem.”
“There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own,” Rubio said in The N.Y. Times. “But there is also a consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future. This is a difficult balance to strike, one that this new policy, imposed by executive order, will make harder to achieve in the long run.”
The Obama administration’s announcement provides further contrast between his campaign and that of GOP challenger Mitt Romney, who has taken a hard-line stance against illegal immigration.
Romney’s campaign has said the former Massachusetts governor opposes amnesty and in-state tuition benefits for illegal immigrants. Romney also wants to incorporate a stronger employer-verification system that penalizes companies that hire illegal immigrants, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Before news broke of the administration’s new policy, former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour had said Republicans needed to improve their appeal among Latinos.
“The Latino vote makes a difference and can make the difference in a number of critical states. And so from a political perspective sure we have to improve,” Barbour said in the L.A. Times.
A spokeswoman for a prominent Latino group, the National Council of La Raza, applauded the President’s move.
"In light of the congressional inaction on immigration reform, this is the right step for the administration to take at this time," NCLR spokeswoman Laura Vazquez said, according to CNN.
For more of Neon Tommy’s coverage of illegal immigration, click here.