Protecting the select portion of undocumented immigrants who would qualify for the DREAM Act from deportation is in the best interest of the nation, President Obama said this afternoon from the Rose Garden of the White House. This morning the Obama administration announced that it would grant DREAM Act-eligible youth a two-year reprieve from deportation, along with the potential for work authorization.
“Put yourselves in their shoes,” Obama said, listing the hardships and everyday survival mechanisms of undocumented immigrant youth who were raised in the country and are “Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper,” yet continue to face deportation.
“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans,” Obama said. Obama said the initiative was borne out of inaction from Congress, which narrowly failed to pass the DREAM Act in December of 2010. Yet Obama called out Republicans in particular, who have shown no meaningful interest in taking up any legalization measure, and instead recommend only harsher enforcement to deal with the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. The DREAM Act would allow a select portion of undocumented youth who commit at least two years to the military or college and clear a host of hurdles to become eligible for citizenship.
Today’s move will not provide young people a path to citizenship, Obama emphasized. “It’s not a permanent fix. This is a stop gap measure.” The only real, long-term solution remains policy overhaul from Congress, the president said.
Obama said the initiative was also the result of efforts to improve immigration enforcement to focus on “criminals who endanger our communities rather than students earning their education.” Still, in the last year that the Obama administration has supposedly been enforcing prosecutorial discretion guidelines that should have left DREAMers out of the deportation queue, many would-be DREAMers have received deportation notices, and been deported.