Roundup: Where the Nation Stands on the Immigration DebateBy Doris Nhan | Friday, June 15, 2012 | 2:06 p.m.
The Obama administration’s announcement that it would effectively stop deporting young undocumented immigrants set ablaze a flurry of news reports, analyses, and statements from a variety of sources.
(RELATED: Twitterverse Reacts to Immigration Debate)
It’s been years in the making. Comprehensive immigration reform was a large piece of President Obama’s platform when he was elected in 2008, and many immigration advocates had criticized the chief executive for his inaction thus far.
Under the new policy, undocumented immigrants younger than 30 who were brought to the U.S. before they were 16 are eligible for a two-year deferral from deportation if they have no criminal record, were successful students, or served in the military. Those who meet the requirements are eligible to apply for work permits.
So far, Obama seems to be on a roll for liberals. Last month, he announced his support of same-sex marriage on ABC News. Granted, it followed Vice President Joe Biden’s off-the-cuff remarks regarding the matter, but it effectively renewed his support base of gay-rights supporters.
His move now to put in place the beginnings of a reformed immigration policy means that it’ll be a long election season for both Obama and Republican hopeful Mitt Romney.
It’s also going to be a significant internal struggle for the Hispanic constituency, 70 percent of whom identify as Catholics, according to the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.
So who do they vote for now? The pro-immigrant Obama, whose stance on same-sex marriage conflicts heavily with religious beliefs, or the conservative Romney, whose promise to veto the Dream Act as president still weighs heavily in the air?
It’s not difficult to surmise that Obama’s announcement is rather fortunate timing, or that his support of such an order means that would-be Dreamers are now reliant on him for the two-year deferral--especially since this is an executive order that Romney would surely not renew should he be commander in chief.
Regardless, it still doesn’t discount the excitement that rang out across the Internet:
“This is huge. As a result of today’s decision, hundreds of thousands of young people who are American in all but paperwork will have the opportunity to live freely, work legally, and contribute to the country they love,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice Education Fund, in a statement.
“The president has heard the cry for relief from every state in the country, parents and principals, nuns and union activists, and most importantly from dreamers themselves,” said Gustavo Torres, executive director of CASA de Maryland, in a statement. “President Obama has heard the need for change and he has acted.”
Critics, however, contend that Obama’s announcement is pandering for votes in an attempt to mask a faltering economic recovery.
A recent Pew poll showed a significant divide among whites over whether the influence of immigrants has had a negative or positive impact on American culture.
Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., called the administration's approach "a short-term answer to a long-term problem,” according to The New York Times.
“There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own," Rubio told The Times, "but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future.”