The Dept. of Homeland Security announced today that most undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children will not be deported:
Those who demonstrate that they meet the 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.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said [Homeland Security] Secretary [Janet] Napolitano. “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 order affects people who arrived before turning 16, are still under 30, have lived here for at least 5 years, and have demonstrated through school or military service and staying out of jail that they're the kind of people we want to keep.
I'd like to see Congress actually pass comprehensive immigration reform that grants citizenship to military veterans and grants permanent residence to people who finish two years of college, but that's crazy talk. The GOP doesn't want poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free, whether they come from Mexico or Mississippi.
Update: Brian Buetler at TPM points out, "for Republicans, embracing Obama’s move carries the same risk with their base as rejecting it does with immigrants — the voting bloc they’re most concerned about alienating. A hunch: prepare yourself for a deluge of condemnations of executive-branch overreach, paired with real reluctance to say anything meaningful about what the directive actually accomplishes."
That sounds about right.