Obama changing US deportation policy — Washington Post

 

“And I swear to you…somehow this will be spun to make me look like I’m destroying America.”

By Peter Wallsten and , Friday, June 15

Originally posted on www.washingtonpost.com

President Obama said Friday that his administration will block deportations of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants who had been brought to the country as children, declaring that it was “the right thing to do” for those affected and for the country.

“Effective immediately, the Department of Homeland Security is taking steps to lift the shadow of deportation from these young people,” Obama said during the announcement in the White House Rose Garden. “Over the next few months, eligible individuals who do not present a risk to national security or public safety will be able to request temporary relief from deportation proceedings and apply for work authorization.”

He said the action was being taken in the absence of any move in Congress “to fix our broken immigration system.” He described the step as a “temporary” measure and urged lawmakers to pass more permanent solutions such as the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform.

“This is not amnesty,” Obama declared. “This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely, while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people. It is the right thing to do.”

Obama’s remarks were interrupted by a reporter from a conservative Web site who tried to challenge him on the new policy. The president rebuffed the attempt, but said later: “In answer to your question, this is the right thing to do for the American people.”

The policy change, first announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a statement Friday morning, effectively ends a years-long standoff with Hispanic activists who are crucial to the president’s reelection campaign.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Napolitano said. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

The issue has been a major point of contention between immigration advocates and Obama. Advocates have spent months urging the president to take executive action to spare many young illegal immigrants from deportation, and until now Obama has insisted that he did not have the authority to do so.

As word spread of the announcement early Friday , the same advocates who have been sparring with the president and his aides began heaping praise on the administration.

Deepak Bhargava, director of the Center for Community Change who had two tense encounters with Obama during 2010, on Friday credited the president with a “bold act to uphold our values and protect our kids.”

“Approximately 1 million young people will have their dreams restored thanks to the principled leadership of President Obama,” Bhargava said….

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