Sunday, June 17, 2012

President Obama Changes Illegal Immigration Policy (in an election year)

President Obama Rose Garden
President Obama speaks on U.S. immigration policy in the White House Rose Garden

President Obama announced a major change in U.S. illegal immigration policy on Friday, June 15.
First, the facts.
  • He did NOT grant amnesty to illegals.
  • Anyone who claims the above is biased to the point of uncredibility.
  • Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation.
  • Those who meet the requirements will able to apply for work permits.
  • The policy change is expect to affect 800,000- 1.4M people (depending on which news source you trust). 

The exact words: “Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. Over the next few months eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization. Now, let's be clear: This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix.”


Now, for some discussion on the facts (with a little bias, because sometimes facts warrant bias)-
  • The President did this on his own. He did not do this with the assistance of the elected legislative body of the United States. 
  • That same legislative body where Senator Marco Rubio was already working on a bill to address these issues. The same Senate that defeated the DREAM Act in 2009.
    Prefer to bypass the Constitution and anyone who doesn't want to do things exactly your way, Mr. President?? Why do we need three branches of government if we can just do it your way (the right way?) every time, right?
  • Hispanics make up the fastest-growing immigrant population in the country, and the Latino vote is considered a crucial bloc for the November presidential election.
    But you are better than election year politics and football spiking, right, Mr. President? You would never want to set an example to your own daughters and all of those elementary school children you asked to be loyal to you, that it is okay to do things all by yourself without asking permission first, just so you can be popular, right? You would never do that.
  • Some people will love the POTUS for this. After all, as he put it, "it's the right thing to do." We're talking about young adults who were brought here as children through no fault of their own. Why should they be punished for their parents' transgressions? To that extent, it is hard to fault the President for this change in policy. These kids (which are apparently also called "Dream-ers" (news to me)) have gone to American schools and know this as their home. (And apparently some have served in our military, which begs the question- WHAT? How do illegal, non-citizens serve in the U.S. Armed Forces?! Don't you have to have a Social Security number for that?! And are we really not giving them citizenship after they have served honorably in our Armed Forces?! (HELLO CONGRESS- Please make that a law NOW. If someone is going to voluntarily serve in our military and risk their lives on our behalf, I think we can absolutely grant them some amnesty and citizenship!) But back to the point here. Yes, these kids deserve a better deal than deportation. And granting them a reprieve is a nice step in the right direction on their behalf. But it absolutely does not solve the problem. 
  • If you believe he did this because "it was the right thing to do" and not because he needed to make sure Senator Rubio (a well-liked potential VP for Romney) couldn't get the glory for it later in the summer, and that the announcement on a Friday afternoon wasn't suspect in and of itself (in political media this is called "throwing it out with the trash"), and that he wasn't completely and in every way pandering to the growing Latino vote- you are not only naive, but completely unaware of how politics work.  Right or wrong, this was one of the most political moves this President has ever made. 

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Obama’s Speech on Immigration Policy

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Good afternoon, everybody.
This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend our nation’s immigration policy, to make it more fair, more efficient and more just, specifically for certain young people sometimes called DREAMers.
Now, these are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper. They were brought to this country by their parents, sometimes even as infants, and often have no idea that they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a driver’s license or a college scholarship.
Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life, studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class, only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak.
That’s what gave rise to the Dream Act. It says that if your parents brought you here as a child, you’ve been here for five years and you’re willing to go to college or serve in our military, you can one day earn your citizenship. And I’ve said time and time and time again to Congress that — send me the Dream Act, put it on my desk, and I will sign it right away.
Now, both parties wrote this legislation, and year and a half ago, Democrats passed the Dream Act in the House, but Republicans walked away from it. It got 55 votes in the Senate, but Republicans blocked it. The bill hasn’t really changed; the need hasn’t changed. It’s still the right thing to do. The only thing that has changed, apparently, was the politics.
Now, as I said in my speech on the economy yesterday, it makes no sense to expel talented young people who, for all intents and purposes, are Americans. They’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country. To expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents or because of the inactions of politicians — in the absence of any immigration action from Congress to fix our broken immigration system, what we’ve tried to do is focus our immigration enforcement resources in the right places. So we prioritize border security, putting more boots on the southern border than at any time in our history.
Today there are fewer illegal crossings than at any time in the past 40 years. We focus and use discretion about whom to prosecute, focusing on criminals who endanger our communities rather than students who are earning their education. And today deportation of criminals is up 80 percent. We’ve improved on that discretion carefully and thoughtfully.
Well, today we’re improving it again. Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people. Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.
Now, let’s be clear. This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the — it is the right thing to do.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Excuse me, sir. I — the — it’s not time for questions, sir.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: I — not while I’m speaking.
Precisely because this is temporary, Congress needs to act. There’s still time for Congress to pass the DREAM Act this year, because these kids deserve to plan their lives in more than two-year increments. And we still need to pass comprehensive immigration reform that addresses our 21st-century economic and security needs; reform that gives our farmers and ranchers certainty about the workers that they’ll have; reform that gives our science and technology sectors certainty that the young people who come here to earn their Ph.D.s won’t be forced to leave and start new businesses in other countries; reform that continues to improve our border security and lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.
Just six years ago, the unlikely trio of John McCain, Ted Kennedy and President Bush came together to champion this kind of reform, and I was proud to join 23 Republicans in voting for it.
So there’s no reason that we can’t come together and get this done. And as long as I’m president, I will not give up on this issue, not only because it’s the right thing to do for our economy — and CEOs agree with me — not just because it’s the right thing to do for our security, but because it’s the right thing to do, period. And I believe that eventually enough Republicans in Congress will come around to that view as well.
And I believe that it’s the right thing to do because I’ve been with groups of young people who work so hard and speak with so much heart about what’s best in America, even though I knew some of them must have lived under the fear of deportation. I know some have come forward at great risks to themselves and their futures in hopes it would spur the rest of us to live up to our own most cherished values. And I’ve seen the stories of Americans in schools and churches and communities across the country who stood up for them and rallied behind them, and pushed us to give them a better path and freedom from fear, because we are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids.
And the answer to your question, sir — and the next time I prefer you let me finish my statements before you ask that question — is this is the right thing to do for the American people. They — I didn’t — I didn’t ask for an argument, I’m answering your question.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is the right thing to do for the American people, and here’s why.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Off mic) — high unemployment.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Here’s the reason — because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making contributions to our society. I’ve got a young person who is serving in our military, protecting us and our freedom. The notion that in some ways we would treat them as expendable makes no sense.
If there’s a young person here who has grown up here and wants to contribute to this society, wants to maybe start a business that will create jobs for other folks who are looking for work, that’s the right thing to do. Giving certainty to our farmers and our ranchers, making sure that in addition to border security, we’re creating a comprehensive framework for legal immigration — these are all the right things to do.
We have always drawn strength from being a nation of immigrants, as well as a nation of laws. And that’s going to continue. And my hope is that Congress recognizes that and get behind — gets behind this effort. All right? Thank you very much, everybody.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: (Inaudible) — specifically ruled this our, sir, last year.
AUDIENCE MEMBER: What about American workers who are unemployed while you employ foreigners? END

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