President Obama has announced that he will issue an executive order halting deportations of younger immigrants who are undocumented, but have no criminal record. It is yet to be seen how credible this new policy is. It wouldn’t be the first time President Obama made a huge announcement about immigration with much fanfare, only to discover it was a shell game. The President’s policy on “prosecutorial discretion”, which was supposed to focus deportations on criminals, did little to halt the removals.
Assuming this is not another gimmick, I wonder what took so long? An executive order requires nothing from Congress and President Obama promised that he would do something to fix this problem back in 2008, you know, the last time there was an election. If President Obama has indeed side stepped Congress, he’s been pulling our chain for four years knowing full well he had the power to help the Latino community.
This is also an embarrassing moment for those folks who have been writing incessantly against the version of the Dream Act Senator Marco Rubio has been discussing. For months now, Democrats have been outright hostile to the idea of a Dream Act that did no offer a pathway to citizenship. The Democrats have been arguing that Rubio’s plan was an affront to Latinos because it relegated these immigrants to second-class status.
As I wrote, this was the best deal in town and it was a framework worth considering, yet others called it a “phony version” of the Dream Act. Very true, it is phony, and I admitted as much back then, but I’m sure we won’t get the same honesty from the crowd desperate to offer Latinos a bone lest they stay home in November. Latinos should be keen to the response coming from Democrats to see just how disingenuous this whole affair has been.
It would be great if this executive order had some substance to it. According to Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, it will take sixty days to sort this out. This would be a small, but significant, step forward in acknowledging the reality of the immigration experience. These people are American in every sense of the word. Formally integrating them into society is the right thing to do.
It would also be great if the Republicans would just shut their mouths and not play into the Democrat’s ploy of instigating an anti-Latino tirade. The less they say, the less this will matter. There’s a dream if ever there was one.
Stephen A. Nuño, Ph.D., NBCLatino contributor and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and International Affairs at Northern Arizona University. He is currently writing a book on Republican outreach into the Latino Community.