In an action that was immediately criticized by conservative groups as pandering, the Obama administration announced Friday a stop in deportation to certain illegal immigrants who are under 30 years old and who came to America before they turned 16.
The announcement was made by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano Friday morning and latter confirmed by President Barack Obama in an appearance in the White House Rose Garden
Obama declared that “this is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship” and he added “It is the right thing to do”
Latino support for President Obama has slipped in the last couple of years. And this segment of the electorate is crucial for his reelection.
Los Angeles is one of the cities with a large Latino population; a significant percentage of this population is in this country illegally. Many of these illegal aliens have relatives who are American citizens and vote. News of the policy was welcome by Angelinos who have been putting pressure on the Obama administration to pass the Dream Act.
Others welcomed the new policy but were more cynical about it. "Why so little? Why now? Why not three years ago?” asked Alex O. who is 23 and came to the US when he was 9. “He (Obama) is doing it only to get vote,s not because he really cares about undocumented immigrants as he says” he added. “He has said that he is not a king and could not make laws. Well he just made one; he could have done it two years ago. He could have even pushed for a comprehensive reform three years ago when he had both the House and the Senate on his side”
Going around congress to establish policy is precisely what republicans criticize of him. Marco Rubio, who has proposed a scaled down version of the Dream Act, said in a statement on Friday, that the change in policy “will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem. And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”
Rubio accused the White House to make policy by executive order, but the White House said that the changes were not imposed by executive order but, it represents a shift in the way that deportation resources are focused.
Zenia V. a Los Angeles resident who recently became a citizen through naturalization said that, although she is happy that these young men and women will no longer be worried about deportation, they still have not a legal status in the country “It is still illegal for them to work in the country, in California they cannot have a driver’s license, so what changed for them? Not much,” Said Zenia. “I think it is another smoking mirror to divert the attention from the economy. What benefits they have staying here (in America) and even have a work permit, which they are not, if unemployment is still high and they cannot find work?” Zenia stated.