Administration Announces Deportation Halt for “DREAMers”
by Ankit Jain | University of Chicago
The Obama administration announced on Friday that the Department of Homeland Security will cease deportation of illegal immigrants brought into the country before the age of 16, under certain conditions. These so called “Dreamers” will be able to apply for renewable two-year work permits that will allow them to live in the country legally but will not provide them a path to citizenship. The decision will provide relief for thousands of young illegal immigrants, who say that any citizenship laws they broke were no fault of their own, but will also provide fodder for critics who say President Obama is weak on illegal immigration.
“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag…. Put yourself in their shoes. Imagine you’ve done everything right your entire life — studied hard, worked hard, maybe even graduated at the top of your class — only to suddenly face the threat of deportation to a country that you know nothing about, with a language that you may not even speak,” Obama said at a news conference announcing the decision.
For young Dreamers, like 18-year-old Saul Espinal, this was a deeply personal announcement. Espinal was brought into the country illegally as a child and said that the announcement “will impact me because I will no longer be undocumented, I will be documented. I won’t be scared of going out by myself…. The fear of being arrested, I don’t have that anymore.”
There are practical effects of the announcement for him as well. Once he is able to attain a work permit, Espinal said, he will also be able to get in-state tuition for Montgomery College, where he plans to study in the fall. The costs he currently has to pay, Espinal said, “are like triple in-state costs.”
Espinal was a part of a large group of people who gathered outside the White House to cheer the decision. Showcasing the potentially important political aspects of this decision, the crowd periodically chanted “Sí se puede,” Spanish for Obama’s 2008 slogan of “Yes we can,” as well as “four more years.”
“[Obama’s announcement] opens up the possibility of President Obama winning more support in key swing states that have large and growing Hispanic populations,” political analyst Richard W. Stevenson said.
Backlash over the decision began quickly. Foreshadowing this controversy, Obama was interrupted during his speech by a reporter for the conservative website The Daily Caller. “Mr. President, why do you favor foreigners over American workers?” reporter Neil Munro yelled during Obama’s remarks.
Munro later released a statement saying “I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States.” However, standing right next to Munro, it was clear that he knew he was interrupting Obama’s remarks and his continued outbursts showed that he was really trying to heckle the President.
Espinal doesn’t see why people like Munro would oppose Obama’s decision. “Many of us were brought here from an early age and we were raised here, so we basically consider ourselves Americans. We are Americans,” he said. “This decision is justice.”Ankit is a native of Vienna, VA, and a Law, Letters, and Society major. He is interested in climate change, civil rights, civil liberties, and economic policy. He is a fan of basketball and tennis, with the Washington Wizards and Roger Federer being his favorite team / player.