Obama announces halt to deportations of some young undocumented immigrants

Republicans (predictably) freak out.

It also undoubtedly puts pressure on Mitt Romney, who already trails Obama in multiple polls significantly with Latino voters. In a statement, Marco Rubio, who has talked about proposing an alternative to the DREAM Act for months but has yet to actually produce any legislation on the issue, had an ambivalent take, taking issue with the process more than that the policy. "Today's announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short term answer to a long term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long term one.”

As of mid-afternoon, Romney himself was silent in his response. At a debate in Tampa at USF in January, Romney trotted out the line that he believed illegal immigrants should "self deport."

The move by Obama will certainly quiet some of his more liberal supporters who have been disappointed at how little they say the president has done for Latinos since he's been in office. They cite the record number of undocumented people that have been deported under his administration.

But congressional Republicans, whose first reaction when asked about immigration is that "we must be tougher on the border," never praise Obama for that, instead criticizing him for letting down Latinos and saying that he has failed them because of his failure to get any legislation passed, even when he had a Democratic House and Senate.

During the president's announcement in the Rose Garden, Neil Munro, a reporter from the conservative website Daily Caller began heckling Obama, asking a question while he was still reading remarks, a violation of protocol that frankly you never see. (Then again, you usually never hear a member of Congress call the president a liar during a joint session of Congress, either.) Obama reacted angrily, telling him "Excuse me, sir, but it’s not time for questions.

Later in his short speech, Obama answered Munro, saying, "In answer to your question, sir — and the next time I’d prefer you’d let me finish my statement before you ask that question — is this is the right thing to do for the American people."

Advocates for the DREAM Act speaking to the press after the president's announcement were ecstatic, though some said it does not go far enough.

Jose Antonio Vargas is the author of the cover story in this week's Time magazine, titled, "We are Americans."

Antonio Vargas called Obama's executive order a "Historic and bold move … today America embraced one million dreams, that ‘s what it boils down to," referring to the estimated number of young people the decision will effect.

Gaby Pacheco made news two years ago as one of a group of undocumented young people advocating for the DREAM Act who marched from Miami to Washington D.C. in what was called the Trail of DREAMS. She said today's move by Obama meant for people like herself, "we get closer and closer to being full-fledged Americans," but she said the fight to pass the DREAM Act continues.

Pacheco publicly thanked Democratic U.S. Senators Dick Durbin from Illinois and Harry Reid from Nevada, two big advocates for the DREAM Act, and "our new found friend" Marco Rubio as well. "We challenge both Democrats and Republicans to make this a longer lasting solution," she said.

Some conservatives in Congress were apoplectic in their response. Iowa Representative Steve King said Obama was usurping the constitutional authority of Congress and warned on Mike Huckabee's radio show that he may sue the administration.

In what supporters are calling a landmark decision, President Obama on Friday issued an executive order to stop deportations of undocumented immigrants currently under 30 years of age who arrived in the country before they turned 16 and have lived in the U.S. 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.

In many ways it's a version of the DREAM Act, voted down in the U.S. Senate in the lame-duck session of Congress in 2010, but today's order does not offer citizenship or even permanent legal status, and is only good for two years. The DREAM Act would give some illegal immigrants a path to citizenship.

So consider it a mini-DREAM Act that bypasses Congress, who are as intransigent on this issue as on virtually everything else that comes to down their way these days. The measure is estimated to cover about 800,000 to 1 million people.


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