This may or may not be a brilliant political stroke, and it may have been more calculated than courageous, but any way you look at it, today, President Obama did the right thing:
The Obama administration announced on Friday that it would no longer seek the deportation of most young illegal immigrants, and would instead allow them to apply for work permits, a significant policy shift with potentially major electoral implications.
The Department of Homeland Security said that, effective immediately, the government would no longer seek the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and would allow them to apply for work permits if they meet certain criteria.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a statement Friday.
A senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters that as many as 800,000 undocumented immigrants stand to benefit from this change. Napolitano said that the shift represented neither immunity nor amnesty -- buzzwords for conservatives who oppose illegal immigration -- but instead represented an instance of "prosecutorial discretion" in which the government had re-evaluated its priorities in enforcing the law.
The shift essentially accomplishes many of the legislative intentions of the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill that had stalled in Congress due to Republican objections. President Barack Obama favors the legislation, while presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has said he would veto that law.
As Amanda Peterson Beadle at ThinkProgress explained, this counters years of feet-dragging by Republicans:
Republicans blocked the DREAM Act in 2010, and this year, House Judiciary Committee Chair Lamar Smith (R-TX) has already said he would not hold a hearing on the DREAM Act in his committee.
Obama’s announcement will create a smart policy to help protect young adults at risk of deportation who have spent years establishing their homes in the United States while boosting the U.S. economy.
More importantly, it will throw Mitt Romney's inhuman immigration policies into stark relief. Romney has vowed to overturn any DREAM act, and wants the nation's 12 million undocumented immigrants to "self-deport". He's been trying to play that down recently by playing footsie with Marco Rubio as his running mate, but this will make all that look like the cheap window dressing it is.
No wonder they're already freaking out at Fox Propaganda News: see the video above, even before Obama made his remarks.
Meanwhile, the cover of Fox Nation this morning pretty much said it all:
Over at Malkin's place, the freakout was well under way, denouncing the move as "800,000 illegal alien deportation waivers". Even more amusing was the response from the world's most dishonest blogger, Gateway Pundit, where the move earned Obama the title of "gangster in chief". [Warning:Links to wingnut sites.]
Of course, these folks have never had any compunction about lying about the DREAM Act in the past, so why would they stop now? Sure, supporting this act is a no-brainer for anyone with an ounce of decency and compassion, but that naturally excludes the entire wingnutosphere. Including Fox.