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Obama Dilutes a DREAM

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Last month, President Obama announced a ‘new immigration policy” by executive order: the immediate implementation of his version of the DREAM Act by the Department of Homeland Security.

Advocates were ecstatic. They called it “the right thing to do, to give temporary legal status to those who had been brought into the country illegally by their parents at a young age through no fault of their own.”

Many of the beneficiaries are Latinos. They number around 1.4 million, according to the Pew Research Center. They call them the “dreamers.”

The press seemed to agree that the action was a political win for Obama. But the action is risky for Obama. It’s a wee bit too clever. It has every chance – probably sooner rather than later – to backfire, particularly on Latinos.

Two reasons:

First, the policy is nothing new. It’s always been possible to apply for and get temporary waivers from deportation, even at the last minute. These “waivers” got dressed up last fall as a new policy on “prosecutorial discretion.” Obama ordered Homeland Security to focus its limited resources only on deporting illegal immigrants who were convicted violent criminals or who had defied prior deportation orders. All others might qualify for a temporary waiver. Last month Obama pointed these possible waivers toward over a million dreamers.

Second, the waiver is not a blanket for a specific group. Each so-called dreamer will have to apply and qualify individually for a temporary deferment. No one knows yet what proof Homeland Security will demand of each dreamer to show they were brought into the country by their parents unknowingly, illegally before the age of 16 and had lived here continuously for five years (school records will be critical).

Further, it is unclear how many misdemeanors and felonies Homeland Security will allow an applicant to have, before dinging their deferral application (including driving without a valid driver’s license, buying and using false identity documents like Social Security and green cards, lying about immigration status for public assistance and having DUIs and other such indiscretions on the record). Many dreamers could actually be putting themselves in jeopardy of deportation after their applications are scrutinized, no matter how young or innocent they were when they first arrived. Especially if they had defied a deportation order.

“We are advising dreamers who are not in deportation proceedings to do nothing until the deferment qualifications are made clear,” said the executive director of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Crystal Williams, at a press conference days after Obama’s announcement. Immigration lawyers are also very concerned that scam advocates in the immigration communities might try to take advantage of eager dreamers.

Obama’s dream could end up being a huge disappointment. Latino leaders already notice the current deferral process is vague and slow; there is already a huge backlog.

They will find the case-by-case process untenable. They will demand (already have begun) more blanket and looser waivers – which the president cannot deliver. The high expectations can’t possibly be met.

By summer’s end most Latinos will realize this is probably all the president can do to legalize some illegal immigrants. Passing amnesty legislation in Congress is highly unlikely before the election. It is even conceivable that Obama’s dream could take away any other effort to legalize illegal immigrants via a “comprehensive” reform bill before 2014.

The best advocates probably can expect is that in the next two years, a few thousand of unquestionably qualified dreamers may be given temporary one- to two-year work visas under Obama’s dream. Those waivers may or may not be extended and lead to permanent residency.

But what is even more likely is that hundreds of thousands of dreamers won’t even apply.

Sooner rather than later it will be said that “once again Obama did not keep his “promise’ to Latinos” on immigration.

Obama’s dream could backfire.


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It does seem to me many may not qualify due to lack of information. One has to keep themselves informed and follow this important news. It's news we've been waiting for all our lives. Pick it up people!!

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