Breaking: Obama to Offer Immunity, Work Permits to Young Illegal Aliens (Updates)
President Obama's reboot flopped Thursday, so here comes a desperation play. According to the AP, the president is getting set to stop all deportations of a certain group of young illegal aliens. Instead of deportation, the president will begin offering them work permits, allowing them not only to remain in the United States against the law, but to take jobs here.
The administration's decision will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. Two senior administration officials described the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of its expected announcement Friday.
Illegal immigrants will avoid deportation and be eligible for work permits if they arrived in the U.S. before age 16, are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.
The unemployment rate among young Americans stands well above the national average of 8.2%. Unemployment among black Americans stands officially at about 16%. The president's policy plays one constituency that he sorely needs, Hispanic voters, against another that supported him in 2008 but has soured on him since, younger voters, and may hurt black voters looking for work as well.
Add to that, the lawlessness of the president deciding not to enforce standing US law by fiat. The Department of Homeland Security is announcing the policy change shortly. The policy change will raise many questions in Congress, which has not been consulted, and will raise questions regarding how DHS will handle the parents of these young illegal aliens.
More: From the AP--
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano was to announce the new policy Friday, one week before President Barack Obama plans to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Obama planned to discuss the new policy Friday afternoon from the White House Rose Garden.
They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
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 offered by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida as an alternative to the DREAM Act.
The president's play is clever. By appropriating Rubio's plan he may blunt some criticism of it. By playing up the plight of illegal aliens brought here as children through no fault of their own and who only know America as their home, he plays on the most sympathetic of illegal aliens.
But the fact remains that Congress has been bypassed by presidential fiat. An additional fact remains that in a time of high unemployment especially among young American citizens, the optics of granting work permits to 800,000 illegal aliens may not be what the president ultimately wants.
More: A word of advice to Romney and the Republicans. Obama has two intentions with this policy. One, shore up support among Hispanic voters on the left dissatisfied by his lack of attention to them (not all Hispanic voters support amnesty or border lawlessness; many Hispanics oppose and/or are victims of these policies). Two, spur heated anti-illegal rhetoric among Republicans, which the Democrats can use to paint Republicans as intolerant, anti-Hispanic, and so forth. Every word that Mitt Romney or any Republican says about this policy is sure to turn up in ads, especially in Spanish media. So keep the rhetoric cool and focused on the president. He is acting outside his authority. He is waging political warfare and using young people as his proxies. He is going to make the difficult jobs situation in America worse by encouraging more illegal immigration.
Obama is hoping to use this policy to set traps for his opponents. Don't let him.
Update: I called Sen. Marco Rubio's DC office to get their reaction. His media staff told me that the senator is still reviewing the policy and will have an announcement later.