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Is Obama About to Change Course and Cut Back on Deportations? By Roger Algase

Rating: 12 votes, 5.00 average.

In what could be a breakthrough for immigration supporters, two of POLITICO's top immigration journalists, Seung Min Kim and Reid J. Epstein, report that President Obama may be reconsidering his policy on deportations and looking for ways to give more people relief from removal. See Obama calls for review of deportations (March 13).

Kim and Epstein write:

"President Obama finally bowed to pressure from immigration rights activists and signaled on Thursday that he may change his deportation policy.

The President changed course after months of claiming that there was nothing his White House could do to stem the flow of deportations of undocumented immigrants. Obama announced in a meeting readout that he has requested a review of his administration's enforcement policies for immigration laws to see if that enforcement can be done 'more humanely within the confines of the law' the White House said Thursday."


Immigration advocates were cautiously optimistic at this development. Kim and Epstein write:

"To immigrant rights activists, however, this is something of a victory. It means that Obama is taking steps toward changing the administration's deportation policies - though the groups won't be satisfied until the policies are in force."

They also quote Chris Newman, legal director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, as saying:

"Review cannot be an excuse for delay...The president has the legal authority and moral obligation to change his deportation policy, and every day he waits will be a blemish on his legacy."

The same article reports that Obama made the announcement after a meeting with three members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

One CHC member, Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz) said, according to the article:

"We're responding to inertia on the part of the Republicans to do nothing as the situation continues to worsen, and look to the administration as the last option for relief."

The inevitable backlash from the Republicans, egged on by their Tea-Party supporting, mainly older white male base, which is determined to resist demographic change in America to the bitter end, should not be long in coming.

It would not be surprising if the Friday and weekend news cycles, not to mention the Sunday talk shows, are full of Republican accusations about Obama's assuming "dictatorial" powers over immigration and "refusing to carry out his Constitutional duty" to enforce the laws of the United States - at least the ones relating to kicking more than 11 million non-white immigrants out of the country.

Republicans will, no doubt, also seize on this development as additional "proof" that the president allegedly cannot be trusted to follow the law on immigration - or any other issue - and that, as Senator Marco Rubio reportedly claimed recently, there can be no immigration reform while Obama is still president.

It would also not be surprising if the Republicans ramp up the the not-so subtle threats of impeaching the president that some of them have been making from the moment that he first took office.

But from the president's viewpoint, changing course on deportations would appear to be imperative not only morally, but also politically. As the recent Congressional election in Florida shows, Obama and the Democrats may already be going into this election under a huge disadvantage brought about by four years and unlimited amounts of money spent by the Republicans on another major issue which is beyond the scope of this post, but may indirectly help to kill immigration reform for the foreseeable future by giving the GOP control of both Houses of Congress this fall.

If Latino and other pro-immigration voters jump ship on the administration in November, as some of them are threatening to do over Obama's record-setting number of deportations, this year's election could be an unmitigated disaster for the Democrats and the prelude to a right wing Republican presidency after the 2016 election.

To risk this would be equivalent to burning down the house because of a dispute over whether to install a new fire extinguisher.

Moreover, the Republicans, evidently taken in by their own racist propaganda to the effect that Latinos are allegedly intellectually inferior to whites, appear to be basing their election strategy on the notion that Latino and other minority voters either don't count or are too stupid to see through the Republicans' pretense of trying to make it look as if they are serious about immigration reform - and would pass it if only a president who deportation numbers are about to reach a record 2 million were more "trustworthy" about enforcing the law.

Obama would be smart to call their bluff. If he can make immigration the main issue in this election, rather than some other issue such as healthcare (or Benghazi, or whatever), it can only help his party in November.

Here's betting that the president is too intelligent to pass up this opportunity to turn this fall's election around by keeping the minority voters who are normally among his strongest supporters on board, as well as doing what is right for America by drastically curtailing or ending his current mass expulsions of immigrants of Latino, Asian or African ancestry.
________________________________
Roger Algase is a graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School, and is a New York lawyer who has been practicing business and professional immigration law for more than 30 years. His practice includes H-1B specialty worker, O-1 and EB-1 extraordinary ability, PERM labor certification, and green card marriage cases (opposite or same sex), among others. His email address is algaselex@gmail.com



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Updated 03-14-2014 at 11:02 AM by ImmigrationLawBlogs

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