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Obama's new immigration ruling: Sound policy or back door amnesty?

On Thursday, August 18, 2011, after months of rumors and White House ‘leaks’ the Obama administration announced they would use ‘prosecutorial discretion’ in relation to illegal immigrants detained for deportation.

Prosecutorial discretion is best described as the ability of the executive branch to decline to enforce immigration laws against certain individuals, along the lines of those who would be eligible for amnesty under the failed DREAM Act. This would include children brought here illegally by their parents when they were small, illegal spouses of U. S. military personnel, and other illegals without criminal records.

The impact of this new ruling was felt Friday, when an immigration judge in a Denver courtroom postponed the deportation hearing until January for a lesbian fighting to stay in the country with her wife. The couple married in Iowa in 2010 and under the new ruling, the case is deemed low priority.

Deportation rates have been the highest ever during the Obama Administration. In the June 27, 2011 issue of TIME Magazine, it was stated since 2009, 1 million people have been deported from the U. S., 400,000 in this past 12 months alone. The article also stated 156,000 illegals have been deported from January to May, 2011. Recent articles say in excess of 390,000 illegals have been deported and about 200,000 were criminals. Apparently this means the 200,000 illegals formerly considered outside the law will now be protected under the law, though the law has not changed.

Obama is using his Executive power to change the law, flying in the face of a Congress who consistently voted against legislation of this type for the last ten years, even with Democratic control of both the House and the Senate.

Anticipating such an event, on Tuesday, July 12, 2011, the House Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Immigration held a hearing on H.R. 2497, the ‘Hinder the Administration’s Legalization Temptation’ or ‘HALT Act.’ Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Lamar Smith, (R-TX) introduced the HALT Act which would suspend President Obama’s use of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ to prevent the President from declining to enforce immigration laws on individuals of his choosing.

Obama’s Executive ruling has been hailed by immigration amnesty advocates as a ‘step forward ’and‘sound policy.’ U.S. Senator Michael Bennett, Democratic Senator from Colorado issued a statement Thursday praising the move. Department of Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, justifies the move stating it would allow greater resources toward border protection and removal of public safety threats.

Opponents of the action label it back door amnesty and are critical of Obama, stating he should spend his time enforcing the immigration laws instead of opposing them. Critics charge it is an obvious political move. Obama won 67% of the Hispanic vote in 2008 but his approval rating with this voting block has slipped dramatically in the past two years.


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