President Barack Obama announced today that the U.S. Department of Justice would not seek to deport young undocumented immigrants with clean criminal records.
Obama issued the executive order early Friday morning, stating he felt this is “the right thing to do.” The decision goes against Congress' vote to deny the Dream Act last year.
The order would affect up to 800,000 illegal immigrants currently residing in the U.S. Those being spaired from deportation would include illegal immigrants who were brought to the U.S. before the age of 16; immigrants who are currently under 30; Immigrants who have remained in the U.S. for at least five continuous years; Immigrants who do not have a criminal record; and Immigrants who have graduated from an American high school, earned a GED or served honorably in the military.
Under Obama's order, this would allow young illegal citizens to get two-year work visas.
While Obama has the support of Democrats, Republicans oppose the decision.
Obama said he can’t see why both sides of Congress can’t come together on the issue, noting that eventually enough Republicans will come on board.
U.S. Rep.-Elect Ron Barber said, “The federal government has failed to fix our broken immigration system or secure the border effectively. We in Arizona have paid a heavy price for these failures.
“In the face of Washington gridlock, I support the decision to allow those young people who serve in the military or have been educated and have no criminal record to get work permits – a bipartisan step that was called for by Sen. Richard Lugar, a Republican. Let me be clear: This plan is not amnesty and I do not support amnesty."
Arizona Sen. John McCain reacted to the statement this afternoon.
“Immigration reform is an important and complex issue that deserves a debate among the American people and in Congress,” he said. “Today’s announcement by President Obama is a politically-motivated power grab that does nothing to further the debate but instead adds additional confusion and uncertainty to our broken immigration system. Further, I find it interesting that after promising to enact comprehensive reform in the first year of his Presidency, the President chose to make this announcement in the middle of his heated re-election campaign. Rather than unilaterally deciding for the American people what they want and how they believe this problem should be addressed, I encourage the President and his Administration to finally reach out to Congress and propose legislation on this important issue.”
Gov. Jan Brewer called the president’s announcement political pandering.
“It doesn’t take a cynic to recognize this action for what it is,” she said. ‘(It’s) blatant political pandering by a president desperate to shore up his political base. Likewise, it’s no coincidence all of this comes on the eve of a long-awaited decision by the U.S. Supreme Court regarding Arizona’s ability to assist with the enforcement of immigration law via SB 1070. The American people are smarter than this.”
Many expect the U.S. Supreme Court to uphold Arizona’s controversial immigration law.