News / USA

Activists Cheer New Immigration Rules, Opponents Cry 'Amnesty'

Executive Director of CASA of Maryland, Gustavo Torres, speaks at CASA's headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, May 13, 2004 (file photo)
Executive Director of CASA of Maryland, Gustavo Torres, speaks at CASA's headquarters in Baltimore, Maryland, May 13, 2004 (file photo)
Laurel Bowman

Washington is buzzing following an announcement by President Barack Obama's administration that the U.S. now will focus its deportation efforts on illegal immigrants with criminal records or those who pose a threat to national security. The new rules also outline ways for those facing deportation, but having no criminal record, to remain in the U.S. and even apply for a work permit.

Advocates, while celebrating the news, said they would press the president for even more pro-immigration action. Opponents, including many Republican lawmakers, called it a massive amnesty plan.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said her agency will review all of the 300,000 cases pending in immigration courts, but the new focus will be deporting criminals and serious violators of immigration law. Undocumented immigrants classified as low-priority could see their deportation stayed and be offered a chance to apply for a work visa.

Pro-immigration activists immediately lauded the move. Gustavo Torres is Executive Director of Casa de Maryland, a group that advocates for immigrants.

“They are going to pretty much allow people who are undocumented here, making a contribution in this great nation, to keep doing that, so that is the reason we are very happy about that decision,” said Torres.

Napolitano told senators in a letter Thursday that the Obama administration repeatedly has said it makes no sense to expend enforcement resources on low-priority cases.

The announcement angered some Republican lawmakers and others who oppose illegal immigration. They say Obama has simply overstepped his bounds.

Ira Mehlman is with FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. He expects Congress, especially the Republican-dominated U.S. House of Representatives, will challenge the President.

“Congress cannot and must not allow the administration to usurp the constitutional authority that Congress has to make our immigration policies. It is the responsibility of the administration to carry out the laws written by Congress," said Mehlman. "Whether the administration likes those laws or not, they are bound constitutionally to enforce them.”

Mehlman said it is average Americans who pay the bill for illegal immigrants.

“This is not cheap labor. It is subsidized labor. When you have people coming here and working for substandard wages, they have to be subsidized by everybody else. If they bring kids and put their kids in the schools, the rest of us pay for that. If they have to use healthcare, we pay for that. There are all sorts of costs that come along with that that the employer passes to the American taxpayer,” he said.

The administration’s plan likely will stoke political tensions as the 2012 campaign season ramps up. Republicans are accusing Obama of granting amnesty to hundreds of thousands of immigrants.

And pro-immigration activists would like to see the president do more for their cause. Like Torres, they say more than 1 million immigrants have been deported on the president’s watch.

“If he keeps deporting our community as he has been doing in the last two-and-a-half years, I doubt the Latino community is going to vote for him,” said Torres.

Although the number of deportations has grown in recent years, the number of those immigrating illegally actually has dropped.




You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More