THE power of President Barack Obama's pen is mighty. With his signature, he declared that as many as a million people branded as scofflaws can remain in the United States without the looming fear of deportation.
In the week or so since Obama's immigration decision, we've all seen the faces and read the stories of the young people who more than ever are clinging to the hope of the American dream their parents had in mind when they illegally brought their children into the country. Does it matter that Obama's use of power seems less about giving hope and more about winning an election? His motives do matter. We'll find out just how much come November.
We can't overlook that Obama waited until just months before Election Day to make such a sweeping decision. Sometimes, motive matters less when the action is right and just. But when the person in question is the most powerful man in the free world, it matters a lot. And there's hardly widespread agreement that his decision was right or just.
While we've long supported the idea that children brought to the country shouldn't be punished for the sins of their parents, many aren't so sure. Obama's move puts deportations on hold. It allows work permits for qualifying young illegal immigrants. The policy applies to those who are 30 or younger and were 16 or younger when they entered the country.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, as many as 1.4 million people could be affected by the policy change. That represents 12 percent of the estimated 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. as of 2010, the center reported. Critics have rightfully lambasted Obama for an election-year ploy to court Hispanic voters. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer was among those criticizing the president's use of executive action in place of legislation, calling it “naked lawlessness.”
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