Friday, June 15, 2012

Obama Administration Issues Executive Order of "mini Dream Act"

This is a big fucking deal:
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.

The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States without documents but who have attended college or served in the military.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.

Under the administration plan, undocumented immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.

The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods.
Great job by the administration on this order. This will drastically improve the lives of many people currently marginalized by our screwed up immigration system.

Questions raised by the Admin's decision to address this by executive order:
-Why did Obama do this now, as opposed to after the DREAM Act failed?
-What caused him to examine what he could do by executive order for this area and not others?
-How can this success be replicated for other areas of policy?

Intial thoughts are these: Gay rights and Immigration have had these successes for two main reasons:
1. Both Gay rights and immigrant rights groups and  have been the most vocal in their opposition to the administration.
2. Neither this order or any of the movement on gay rights are economic issues, and are impacting rich people negatively in any way. The same can't be said for other areas where we would like to see the administration change course on policy.
3. The administration saw support from both groups as critical to his reelection. A large number of the really big money donors are gay rights advocates, and were withholding support until Obama took further action on marriage. Similarly, the Administration probably figured they couldn't win the election with this level of vitriol coming from the immigrant rights community, especially since Romney might make Rubio his VP.

This is a huge victory. It also shows when he wants to get something done, Obama is willing to look outside of the box and use executive orders and other unconventional means. The challenge will be to see ways this success can be replicated in other areas.


  1. This is so excited. I'm not sure that the administration will take this any further in other areas. I think they might wait and see how it plays in the campaign.

  2. WooHooo!!! This is so exciting, I personally know several young people that will benefit from this and truly deserve to stop living in fear! One step forward!

  3. Just an FYI - this is not an Executive Order, this is the exercise of "prosecutorial discretion" - those two terms have very specific, and very different, legal meanings. An Executive Order can get over-ridden by either the Supreme Court or by Congress, prosecutorial discretion (choosing who to charge under a law and who not) is not legally challengeable by anyone.

    This has got many folks who are upset with Obama as president quite angry, and they have tried to cast the action in other lights (including calling it an Executive Order), implying that this is an overreach of his powers as president. based on my reading, it is absolutely within his power to do, and it is up to the people to hold him accountable for his actions come election time.