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June 15, 2012 2:53 PM Obama Preempts “DREAM Lite”

By Ed Kilgore

I sure didn’t see this coming: even as Sen. Marco Rubio supposedly continued “work” on a “Lite” version of the DREAM Act that was eagerly awaited by many Republicans as an essential step towards avoiding disaster with Hispanic voters in November and beyond, and even as Mitt Romney supposedly “considered” supporting it, his “thining” slowed by the need to avoid accusations of yet another “flip-flop,” the Obama administration moved by executive action to get there first. Here’s Amanda Peterson Beadle’s summary of the initiative (just now officially announced by the president in the Rose Garden):

Under the “deferred action” policy, a Department of Homeland Security directive, students in the U.S. who are already in deportation proceedings or those who qualify for the DREAM Act and have yet to come forward to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials, will not be deported and will be allowed to work in the United States.
An estimated 1 million young people could benefit from the deferral. To be eligible, applicants have to be between 15 and 30 years old, live in the U.S. for five years, and maintain continuous U.S. residency. People who have one felony, one serious misdemeanor, or three minor misdemeanors will be ineligible to apply. “Deferred action” will last for two years and can be renewed.

As AP reports, the initiative is very similar to what Rubio was considering in his “Republican alternative” to the DREAM Act:

The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the United States for extended periods. It tracks closely to a proposal being drafted by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential vice presidential running mate for Romney, as an alternative to the DREAM Act.
Rubio did not criticize the administration’s initiative Friday but said it would make it harder to achieve a permanent solution.
“Today’s announcement will be welcome news for many of these kids desperate for an answer, but it is a short-term answer to a long-term problem,” Rubio said in a statement. “And by once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one.”

Yeah, sure: Congress has been unwilling to consider anything like significant immigration legislation ever since the Bush administration-backed “comprehensive” proposal crashed and burned in the Senate in 2007, which triggered a rush towards neo-nativism in the GOP (most notably by a guy named Mitt Romney, who used the scourge of Rick Perry’s support for a Texas variation on the DREAM Act to very effectively lash his campaign to a bloody pulp during the nomination contest).

In any event, as Rubio stews, the unrepetent Right is shrieking with anger, led, as is often the case, by Rep. Allen West:

Congressman Allen West (R-FL) told Fox News that he sees this as a possible “backdoor” opportunity for the White House to eventually allow undocumented immigrants to vote.
The congressman told Martha MacCallum that the president’s executive order “shows that we are getting away from government that is based upon the consent of the American people, and we’re starting to live under a rule by edict or executive order.”

Gee, I seem to recall that the previous Republican administration had a pretty expansive notion of executive powers as well, but I suppose bringing that up is part of the “blame game.”

Whatever the Obama action means constitutionally or even legally, it acts as a complete preemption of Rubio’s ploy, and just as importantly, will force Romney’s hand much earlier than he had wanted, at the very time his “base” is in a renewed full hate frenzy about “amnesty.” And needless to say, it will help Obama’s reputaton with the Hispanic voters whose support and enthusiasm he desperately needs in November. DREAM Lite is not ultimately what Hispanic voters prefer, but since Obama supports the real deal as well, this action will go along way towards answering complaints that he’s afraid to take action on this front:

News of the change raced across the country, buoying the spirits of immigrants and immigrant advocates who have campaigned for such a change for more than 10 years.
“I’m definitely speechless,” said Pedro Ramirez, a recent graduate of Fresno State University who was student body president when he admitted that he was in the country illegally.
“It gives us a chance to show the American people that we’re not here to use your tax dollars; we’re not here to take your jobs; we’re here to contribute,” he said.

All in all, a pretty good morning’s work for Obama. Perhaps it will even quiet some of the MSM talk of his campaign being in “disarray” and Romney being on the steady rise to the presidency.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

Comments

  • c u n d gulag on June 15, 2012 3:06 PM:

    In a saner country, Allen West would be either in a military prison, or in a Home For the Criminally Insane, occupying the 'Hannibal Lecter Wing', wearing his hero's straight jacket, mouth protector, and brought out for meetings on a gurney.

    And as for this, if Obama wins in November, this will now give the House (if it's still in R control, as is likely), three reasons to impeach President Obama:
    -Immigration "tyranny."
    -The leaking of secret information.
    -And Holder, and that idiotic gun plan that was planned by the same administration that thought that by now, Iraq would have a George W. Bush statue in every town, village, and city, and the national motto would be, "Democracy! Whiskey!! Sexy!!!"

  • boatboy_srq on June 15, 2012 3:07 PM:

    It sure is delicious how the various Reichwing operatives don't even seem aware of their comrades' efforts to squash their various voting-bloc-specific agendas: witness Rubio talking to "Hispanic voters" (which is a bit like Shlafly talking to NOW) and completely missing that all the good things he promises the GOP would do if that dastardly IslamoFascist hadn't gotten there first are all being dashed to pieces, because at the same time West et al are rushing to insist to their own constituents that they'd do no such thing.

    Now if only we could get those two talking points side-by-side on Fauznooze or the Washington Times front page...

  • jjm on June 15, 2012 3:12 PM:

    This is just a brilliant and very humane move on Obama's part. We've heard a lot of stories that tug at the heartstrings about A students who couldn't use their scholarships to prestigious universities because they were brought here as babies illegally. This is a terrific play by Obama as it completely aces out Rubio's nothing 'plan,' and leaves Mitt HAVING to respond.

  • maryQ on June 15, 2012 3:16 PM:

    "I sure didnít see this coming"

    Oh, Ye of little faith.

    Expect more.

    I predict several more well-timed executive orders that pre-empt Republican attempts at sanity AND drive home the point that a)congress sucks and b) Obama can get a few things done, and he will but c)more action requires congress not to suck

  • Robert on June 15, 2012 3:40 PM:

    WHO IS THIS ASSHOLE!: Neil Munro of the Daily Caller heckles POTUS in Rose Garden. The dude has a distinct accent that ain't you know from Brooklyn or Georgia. Sounds more like he has kissed the Blarney Stone or likes to wear kilts. Who is he and where are HIS Papers?!

  • Robert on June 15, 2012 3:44 PM:

    "In his Twitter profile, Munro describes himself as -- seriously -- "Born Irish." Just to make sure the irony is crystal clear, that would make him an immigrant.

    The Daily Caller is a news site founded by former CNN "Crossfire" co-host Tucker Carlson and tends to lean to the right. In an article posted ahead of Obama's press conference, Munro wrote that Obama was changing his immigration policy in an attempt to woo Hispanic voters."

    http://blog.zap2it.com/pop2it/2012/06/neil-munro-president-obama-heckled-by-daily-caller-reporter-during-immigration-speech.html

    You can't make this s.... up!

  • Duge on June 15, 2012 3:50 PM:

    If West, et. al are worried about Obama accomplishing this by EO, then why don't they let the voice of the people be heard and hold a vote on this?

  • ComradeAnon on June 15, 2012 4:52 PM:

    So Rubio proposed a very similar plan. And now that something is actually going to happen and help at least some of the undocumented immigrants, he's upset because... Why is he upset? Oh yeah. He's a dick.

    And Kudos to the President for such a twofer. Accomplish something really needed and pull the rug out from under a republican.

  • pol on June 15, 2012 5:06 PM:

    "And Kudos to the President for such a twofer. Accomplish something really needed and pull the rug out from under a republican."

    Actually, it's a threefer... We get to see heads explode....

  • liam foote on June 15, 2012 6:58 PM:

    Game ... set ... match.
    Well played, ye old three point shooter.
    GOP can start whining about 2016.

  • wvmcl on June 16, 2012 9:09 AM:

    One thing we've seen time and again: No matter how bad things look for him, don't ever count Barack Obama out.

  • Neo on June 16, 2012 11:07 AM:

    The Hispanic population ought to be a little wary of the Presidentís claims.

    Since a Presidential Order doesnít carry the same weight as a law .. and there is a law that says differently than the President, itís quite possible that that this pandering to the illegal Hispanic community (who shouldnít be voting because that is illegal no matter) could turn into the biggest group of patsies to turn themselves into ICE under the mistaken belief that the President can just ignore the laws that strike him unfavorably.

    It's very possible that "DREAM Lite" could turn into a nightmare.