While practicing the fine art of “linguistic gymnastics,” the Obama administration on Friday blessed an estimated 800,000 young, illegal aliens with a bite of the amnesty apple, according to critics of President Barack Obama’s immigration enforcement record.
In an announcement sure to create controversy and anger many Americans, President Obama on Friday announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for “relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.”
Speaking from the White House Rose Garden, President Obama told reporters that illegal aliens who demonstrate that they meet his administration’s criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
Obama was careful to add that the Department of Homeland Security will continue to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including “immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders.”
He claimed today’s action further enhances the DHS ability to focus on these priority removals. However, many lawmakers and observers have said President Obama is bypassing the U.S. Congress.
“Had any other president done this, the news media and the U.S. Congress would be shouting from the rafters about abuse of power by the executive branch of the government,” said Mike Baker, a political strategist.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis if they: came to the United States under the age of sixteen; have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum; are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; are not above the age of thirty.
Obama’s announcement today comes just one week before he’s scheduled to address a large Latino audience, a constituency he requires to win re-election.
During his Rose Garden announcement, Obama promised that only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action.
“Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date. Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano who is expected to enforce the policy change.
“DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights,” she said.