Obama Administration puts Band-Aid on immigration

Obama Administration puts Band-Aid on immigration
Photo by Sarah Ji (courtesy iyjl.org)

It's been a big week for immigration news.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano on Thursday released a letter stating the Obama Administration would review the files of 300,000 undocumented immigrants and reevaluate the pending deportations of "low priority" cases or people who have not committed violent crimes. This would include some DREAM Act students.

Meanwhile the day before in Chicago, which has been at the center of the movement for the fight for the DREAM Act, there was a protest outside a meeting about the Secure Communities program. Six undocumented youth were arrested after blocking the street. There also were protests earlier in the week in other major cities, including Houston, Boston and Miami.

The youth have been behind a movement to pass the DREAM Act, which would create a pathway to legalization for immigrant youth brought here as minors who complete two years of college or military service.

They were protesting outside a hearing for the Secure Communities program that allows local law enforcement to use fingerprints and check them against a federal database to determine a person's immigration status. The idea is to target serious criminals but immigration activists say that more people stopped for minor traffic violations are instead facing deportation.

Now these are some of the 300,000 cases the Obama Administration says that it will review.

Republican critics are calling this a back-door amnesty. But it's really not.

Each of the 300,000 cases will be reviewed one at a time and immigration officials could still deport a mother whose only crime is working in the United States and driving without a license. In states like Illinois you can't get a license if you are undocumented.

Nobody is exactly sure what the announcement means or whether to trust an administration that already has deported more than 1 million undocumented since 2008.

Some DREAM Act students could be given a reprieve or even a work permit. But what Napolitano announced is not a pathway to a green card or U.S. citizenship.

It is just moving some people from one state of limbo to a temporary state of legal limbo but with an uncertain future.

Basically it's putting a Band-Aid on larger problem. It's not a solution for the more than one million youth who might qualify under the DREAM Act or 11 million undocumented who could benefit from comprehensive immigration reform.

Before the re-election campaign, President Obama had to do something to assuage the growing frustration of many in the Latino community and those fighting for immigration reform. While this announcement will help some of the undocumented, it's still falls far short of solving the larger issue.


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