Obama Immigration Policy Change Greeted with Cheers, Jeers
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — President Barack Obama dropped what many are considering a political bombshell on Friday, radically changing the nation’s immigration policy for young undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.
Obama signed an executive order halting the deportation of people brought to the U.S. as children. It is expected to cover undocumented immigrants under the age of 30 who were brought to the U.S. as children under the age of 16.
“Actions my administration will take to amend the nation’s immigration policy to make it more fair, more efficient, and more just, specifically, for certain young people sometimes called dreamers,” said the President.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, the plan will only cover illegal immigrants with no criminal record who are successful students or who have served in the military.
Here in the metro, the change was met with both cheers and jeers. For undocumented students like Richard Quinones, the move was a victory.
“I really can not believe it, we’ve been working so hard to get something,” said Quinones, 22, whose parents brought him to the U.S. when he was just six months old. Two decades later, he is still undocumented.
“No driver’s license, no social security number,” said Quinones. “I do pay taxes though.”
Quinones says that he was going to college in Missouri until legislation kept him out.
“My parents always told me education comes first, if Missouri’s not going to accept you, there’s other schools that will. I went to JOCO and got my AA,” said Quinones, who says that he hopes that today’s announcement will make it easier for him to get a job and afford a bit more.
But outspoken immigration opponent Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach claims that the President overstepped his authority and broke the law with his announcement on Friday.
“Federal law doesn’t allow a person who is illegally in the U.S. to suddenly, by executive declaration, become lawfully present or work authorized,” said Kobach, who says that he expects there to be a firestorm on Capitol Hill over the executive action. “Specifically the problem with the action today is that it violates a statute Congress passed in 1996 which takes away any prosecutorial discretion with regard to deportation.”
According to Kobach, the 1996 law was passed because Congress was worried that President Bill Clinton might not fully enforce immigration laws, so they took away executive discretion on the matter.
“And here we have President Obama now claiming that he has it, he either hasn’t read the law or is openly defying it,” claims Kobach.
When asked if there is any middle ground to be found on the issue, Kobach, who claims that the move rewards the children for their parents breaking the law, said sure.
“One middle ground might be to allow these individuals to go back to their home country and get in line behind so many millions of people at any given time who are trying to come to the United States legally,” said Kobach.
Click here to read the entire statement from the Department of Homeland Security on the criteria for deferred action.