In a statement made today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano told reporters that the White House will halt deportation of young immigrants with no criminal background who came to the U.S. as children, and give them work permits.
“Today, I am announcing that effective immediately, young people brought to U.S. by no fault of their own and meet several criteria no longer are removed from country or entered into removal proceedings.”
Some are likening the drastic policy change to the Dream Act, which has been deadlocked in Congress for years. Greg Sargent from the Washington Post argues the policy is more like GOP Senator and potential VP nominee Marco Rubio's alternative to the Dream Act, questioning whether the GOP would still support it with Obama's name stamped on it. Given the highly politicized nature of immigration policy, Sargent continues:
Republicans will likely try to take credit for it by arguing that Rubio’s work on the DREAM alternative made this happen. But it was already unclear whether Republicans — Romney included — would have the room to back such an alternative, given the GOP base’s passions on the issue. So what many Republicans will likely do now is object to the new initiative on the basis of process, arguing that Obama’s end run around Congress represents tyranny and the like.
In an election that may come down to the Latino vote, GOP leaders are attacking Obama's immigration policy, calling it an abuse of power. Rep. Allen West tweets,
On the President's decision to grant certain rights to illegals...This is yet another example of executive overreach! tinyurl.com/c9sz3x8 — Allen West (@AllenWest) June 15, 2012
In defense of the policy, Napolitano clarifies, "It is not immunity, it is not amnesty," she said. "It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system."
This law will go into effect immediately, and is set to affect an estimated 800,000 young immigrants. While some Republicans question the president's intentions in an election year, Obama has made passing the Dream Act a top priority throughout his campaign. The real concern may be the effect this will have on the GOP efforts to win over the Latino vote, an issue that Romney has already struggled with.
This election year move may have GOP leaders up in arms, but young immigrants around the country cheer Obama's new policy. The Los Angeles Times documents reactions in LA.
"At the beginning I sort of didn’t believe it, but then almost immediately I was overwhelmed by a sense of joy. It gives me hope, it motivates me to continue fighting for my family, for my community.” - Mora, an undocumented student at UCLA
President Obama is set to make an official statement on his policy later this afternoon.