On this Sunday’s Al Punto with Jorge Ramos on Univision, Senator Reid (D – Nevada) expressed that President Obama can do more “administratively” to help DREAM Act eligible youth from being taken away [deported] in the middle of the night.
Despite the Morton memo providing guidance to ICE on prosecutorial discretion that was issued nearly a year ago, DREAM eligible youth have continued to fall into deportation proceedings. Just a few months ago, the deportation of a Miami high school valedictorian was making national news. And countless other young people who are DREAM eligible have still been snared by ICE after the prosecutorial discretion guidelines were issued.
Ramos asked Senator Reid if the President may have a problem with Latino voters because he didn’t keep his promise to get immigration reform done. This is a translated excerpt of that exchange:
JR: Senator Reid, do you think President Barack Obama has a Hispanic problem because he has deported more immigrants than any other President in the history of the United States and because he didn’t keep his word on presenting an immigration proposal during his first year? Is there a Hispanic problem for President Obama?
HR: Well, Jorge, the polls, because of what the Republicans have done on wide-ranging issues, to be anti-Hispanic, the polls show Democrats leading by significant numbers, including President Obama. President Obama is not a perfect man. He hasn’t been a perfect President. He’s been a very, very good President. And we’ve done some extremely good things, especially as it relates to the “Dreamers”, to make sure that they’re not taken away in the middle of the night. There’s a lot more that can be done. There’s more the President is going to do administratively. And that should happen fairly quickly.
For over a year now, a group of Senators have been asking the administration to provide administrative relief to DREAM eligible youth so that they would be protected from deportation proceedings and so that ICE can devote resources to more serious cases (undocumented people who may have committed a crime for example).
Marshall Fitz, who directs Immigration Policy at the Center for American Progress, explained what the administration can do in providing administrative relief in an April press call. “The Senators in their letter were not proposing a novel legal strategy,” argued Fitz. “What they requested was for the administration to exercise the authority that it currently has to provide discretionary relief to individuals. It is firmly established that the administration has the authority to make class-based decisions in terms of who they will investigate, and who they will prosecute.” Fitz also explained that President Bush used administrative relief (deferred enforced departure) for a group of Liberians back in 2007.
Recent polling shows that President Obama still has the overwhelming support of Latino voters, but these voters don’t approve of the way President Obama has handled the immigration policy. One of the main reasons is that he has set records for deportations. If President Obama could provide the administrative relief that activists and a group of Senators have been asking for, he could send a firm signal that he’s serious about solving the immigration problem instead of blaming Congress for inaction.
Senator Reid’s comments on Al Punto attempt to throw the ball back in the President’s court. With the presidential campaign now in full swing, it won’t look good for the President to be on the campaign trail and be confronted by Latino voters about the deportation of promising young people – especially given that the DREAM Act is so popular with this segment of the electorate.