The Obama administration announced on Friday that it would no longer seek the deportation of most young illegal immigrants, and would instead allow them to apply for work permits, a significant policy shift with potentially major electoral implications.
The Department of Homeland Security said that, effective immediately, the government would no longer seek the deportation of illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, and would allow them to apply for work permits if they meet certain criteria.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano in a statement Friday.
A senior administration official said in a conference call with reporters that as many as 800,000 undocumented immigrants stand to benefit from this change. Napolitano said that the shift represented neither immunity nor amnesty -- buzzwords for conservatives who oppose illegal immigration -- but instead represented an instance of "prosecutorial discretion" in which the government had re-evaluated its priorities in enforcing the law.(Emphasis added).
The announcement represented a major policy shift, and its political implications will be significant.
The shift essentially accomplishes many of the legislative intentions of the DREAM Act, an immigration reform bill that had stalled in Congress due to Republican objections. ...
The new rule comes amid a bruising election year fight between Obama and Romney, in which the Latino vote could be decisive. Obama enjoys a strong advantage with Latino voters, winning 61 percent of Latinos vs. 27 percent for Romney in a mid-May NBC News/Wall Street Journal/Telemundo poll.
The Hispanic vote is of particular importance in swing states like Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Florida, among others. Those states could swing the election toward Obama or Romney, elevating the importance of the margin between the two candidates with Latino voters.
In related news, the DOJ had announced earlier this week that it was suing Florida over efforts to remove ineligible voters from its voter rolls.
Florida was sued by the U.S. over claims the state conducted a “systematic program to purge voters” from registration rolls in violation of federal election law.Make no mistake about it--the policy and suit are related, and intended to give Obama an advantage in the coming election. This is a clear violation of your right to vote by allowing illegal immigrants and opportunity to nullify the vote of a citizen. It is also another example of the President adopting unpopular legislation by executive fiat.
The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 “expressly forbids” such removal programs during the 90-day period before federal elections, according to a complaint filed yesterday in federal court in Tallahassee, Florida.
The U.S. Justice Department warned Florida in a May 31 letter that the state’s program to identify ineligible voters may violate federal law, including one aimed at reviewing voter limits in states such as Florida with a history of racial discrimination. The state responded by saying the initiative is valid.
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The lawsuit names Florida and its Secretary of State Ken Detzner as defendants.
“We understand the law differently than the Department of Justice,” Lane Wright, a spokesman for Scott, said in a phone interview. “The people we are removing are those non-citizens who were never eligible to be on the voter rolls in the first place.”
Wright said Scott’s office has “irrefutable evidence” that non-citizens are on voter registration rolls illegally and has verified more than 50 who voted in at least one previous election. “We haven’t removed one eligble voter,” Wright added.