SMART POLITICAL MOVE – AT 10:27 A.M. ET: I've never seen a more political administration than this one. I have no problem with presidents being politically savvy – they won't survive if they're not – but this president abuses the privilege.
We have today an example of the power of incumbency, and how it can influence an election. This has just broken, but is already a headline story:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
The policy change, described to The Associated Press by two senior administration officials, will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants who have lived in fear of deportation. It also bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so-called DREAM Act, a long-sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who have attended college or served in the military.
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the DREAM Act.
COMMENT: The president has had almost four years to address the complex issue of illegal immigration, but he engages in this broad stroke only in time for an election. He can take this action as president. A challenger cannot. The power of incumbency.
Frankly, it's a practical step. We are not going to deport young people who were brought here by parents. It's not in our character. And we're not going to engage in massive deportation of illegals. For one thing, business is against it.
The Republican Party has been trapped in a rigid immigration stance that has achieved nothing, except to turn the Hispanic community toward the Democrats. A practical solution that acknowledges illegality but provides a path for the immigrant to make amends is required. As the story notes, Marco Rubio has come up with thoughtful proposals along these lines. Now the Democrats have stolen his thunder, probably making it impossible for him to go anywhere with his own plan, and undercutting his political position. We've warned before about underestimating the Obama political machine. These boys play to win. This immigration step proves it.
June 15, 2012