There has been a cautious welcome for the announcement today that undocumented youth will no longer be automatically deported.
Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) said that:
We hope it is a signal that at last our government recognizes and respects the contributions of immigrants. President Obama honors our history as a nation of immigrants with today’s announcement.
The reason for caution is that last year the administration made a similar commitment to review cases which raised the hopes of many — including bi-national same-sex couples — that their deportations might be stayed. Yet only 4,363 deportation cases were closed after a national review of the nearly 300,000 people in removal proceedings.
People who save for their immigration violations had been convicted of no crime, who had longstanding ties to the country or were young and educated, were supposed to good candidates to win a short-term reprieve. Immigrant rights activists have been disappointed by the results. And through it all, immigrant rights networks bubble daily with reports of yet another father, or sister, or fresh high school graduate, who’s facing imminent deportation.
DREAM Act-eligible immigrants, so-called “DREAMers,” have been occupying Obama campaign offices.
NIJC puts today’s announcement down to these kids:
We applaud the courageous youth who have fought for years to convince the president that he can use his executive power to protect immigrants who were raised in the United States and are contributing to our society. Today, immigrant families have a renewed sense of dignity.
But they note that:
Today’s announcement does not fully repair our country’s dysfunctional immigration system, but we hope it is a signal that at last our government recognizes and respects the contributions of immigrants. President Obama honors our history as a nation of immigrants with today’s announcement – we call on Congress to do the same and pass fair immigration reform that creates a humane system for all.
It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans.
Today’s action is an executive one, bypassing Congress, and exactly what has been demanded. Yohan Garcia, an undocumented student at Hunter College in New York, told feetintwoworlds:
It’s a day of victory. A day of big accomplishment, I think.
However, cautions Rosario Quiroz:
Hopefully this announcement is genuine and the voice of undocumented individuals continues to get louder. However, it takes an understanding and strong recognition that this is not the time to rest or preemptively celebrate.
Said Yahaira Carrillo, founder and an organizer with the Kansas/Missouri Dream Alliance:
It’s very much a Band-aid. There’s still a lot of gray area around it. So I’m not quick to congratulate everyone.
Said Reyna Montoya, a recent graduate of Arizona State University with dual bachelors degrees and vice-president of Arizona’s Dream Act coalition, who came to the U.S. from Mexico when she was 13:
I came out of the shadows at a Republican fundraiser in 2010. It has empowered me a lot, to accept who I am and accept that I am not a criminal, that I am not doing anything wrong.
But what I worry about is that people are going to turn complacent. The fight is not over.
The GOP’s response on DREAMers as a whole has been as yet undefined — and via, who’da thunk, Marco Rubio — but it does also contain what the administration acknowledges today what in this proposal is a “stop gap” measure, no “path to citizenship.” However, the expected GOP-base reaction was quickly exemplified today as a reporter from Tucker Carlson’s Daily Caller heckled the president during his speech and before questions about the policy. Just like those pink ladies used to do to George Bush and friends, though, I’d assume Carlson et al wouldn’t appreciate the comparison.
Obama’s announcement arrived, unacknowledged, as Katherine Leal Unmuth points out, on the 30th anniversary of the historic Plyler v. Doe Supreme Court decision, which affirmed undocumented immigrant children’s right to a free public education. She notes:
In 2007, I visited the humble home of Jose and Lidia Lopez, one of the couples who challenged the Tyler [the relevant schools superintendent in Texas] schools in court. Their children later went on to graduate high school and remain in Tyler, where they are raising their own children.
“School is very important for all children, and they should not be discriminated against because they are Mexican or white or black,” Mr. Lopez said. “They should be equal.”
When I visited Jim Plyler, he said he had changed his mind and supported the decision.
Here are two kids from Campaign For An American Dream who’ve been occupying the Obama campaign’s Denver office for a week. What? MSNBC failed to tell you about this? I’m shocked…
Picture courtesy Campaign for an American Dream