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September 30, 2014

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Dream Act not enacted in letter of law, but is in spirit

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Tom Williams

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is interviewed by the Las Vegas Sun in his office in the U.S. Capitol in Washington.

DREAM Act rally

Supporters of the DREAM Act held a rally at the Lloyd George Federal Building in Downtown Las Vegas on December 14 in an effort to gain Sen. John Ensign's support. Launch slideshow »

DREAM Act Rally

Adelia Vazquez, center, 17, a senior at Desert Pines High School, cheers during a rally Tuesday in downtown Las Vegas to support the DREAM Act. Launch slideshow »

Four months ago, Sens. Harry Reid, Dick Durbin and 20 of their Democratic colleagues sent President Barack Obama a letter imploring him to stop deporting Dream Act students and military personnel.

It took a while for the White House to answer its mail.

Today, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano wrote back to Reid, informing him that the Obama administration had effectively decided to grant his request.

Napolitano didn’t specifically promise a moratorium on Dream Act deportations — those being illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as children, are deemed to be of strong moral character, are younger than 35 and are enrolled in college or the armed forces.

Instead, the Homeland Security and Justice departments are adopting a case-by-case review method: They’ll prioritize deporting individuals in “high priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons,” Napolitano wrote, the purpose being to “enhance public safety.”

Napolitano took pains to stress that the change in approach “will not provide categorical relief for any group,” and pointed out that that sort of prosecutorial discretion has been in the works at Homeland Security since it was first proposed in June.

But the wider message is that the Dream Act individuals are a low priority for deportation, and low priorities won’t be acted upon anytime soon.

Their response has been joyous.

“I am especially pleased about the impact these new policies will have on those who would benefit from the Dream Act,” Reid said in a statement today. “These young people are American in all but paperwork ... We lose a lot by sending them back to countries they do not know.”

Or as immigrant advocate and Rep. Luis Gutierrez — who came to Las Vegas to campaign for Reid last year — put it: “This is the Barack Obama I have been waiting for.”

As far as policy goes, it’s certainly a sigh of relief for 18- to 35-year-old undocumented U.S. residents who have come to be known as Dreamers: They have no more rights under the law with this pronouncement, but they also don’t have to live in fear of deportation.

As far as Congress goes, it’s not terribly likely that the change in policy will spur the body to action on the Dream Act or any other part of immigration law anytime soon. Reid wasn’t able to get the Dream Act past the Senate last December when he had 59 Democrats at his disposal: Immigration has never split cleanly down the party line in either direction, and the attempt fell five votes short.

But as far as politics go? This will likely prove to have been a clutch move.

Obama has come under fire from Hispanic advocates because of his administration’s position on immigration.

As a candidate, Obama promised to pursue comprehensive immigration reform in his first year. That still hasn’t happened.

Immigration enforcement, however, has expanded modestly under Napolitano’s department: Since she took over from President George W. Bush’s chief Michael Chertoff, deportations have risen a few percentage points a year. (During fiscal 2010, 393,862 were deported, according to government stats.)

That’s not what most Hispanics who voted Democrat in 2008 were expecting.

“Mr. Obama must deliver. And he has not. That’s basically all I can say,” Fernando Romero, president of the nonpartisan activist group Hispanics in Politics told the Las Vegas Sun last month.

Just this week, it seemed like tensions were about to burst open, after the Obama administration staunchly defended its “Secure Communities” program over document-based allegations that Homeland Security had misled local communities as to how it planned to carry out the fingerprint-sharing operation. It’s helped the feds deport several thousand illegal immigrants every year.

Some immigrant activists called for a public apology from Obama and for him to fire Cecilia Munoz, the White House director of intergovernmental affairs and a top advocacy voice on immigration in the administration.

That’s not a good place to be heading into an election.

Immigration isn’t usually the top-priority issue for Hispanic voters, but it’s a core one for the group, and that’s important, especially in places like Nevada, where the growth of the Hispanic vote and steadily increasing turnout have created a pivotal electoral force.

Hispanics in Nevada have, in recent elections, voted about 70 percent Democratic. But it’s not a split Republicans have been willing to cede.

During the midterm election cycle, conservative pundit Robert Deposada aired ads urging Hispanics to sit out the election, protesting with their silence against Obama’s lack of action on comprehensive immigration reform.

This election cycle, the national Republican campaign committees have already released several ads targeting Spanish-language voters — this time to persuade them to vote GOP.

It’s happened in the not-so-distant past. Eight years ago, Bush pulled in over 40 percent of the national Hispanic vote (in Nevada, 39 percent of self-identifying Latino voters cast ballots for Bush).

If there’s ever been a field where the GOP could hope to replicate that success, it’s likely this year. There are at least three Hispanic lawmakers' names being tossed about for the Republican vice presidential pick: U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, and Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada.

Momentum is still on the Democrats’ side though — if they don’t screw up the relationship.

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  1. Pandering for the vote are they? Deport them all!
    Don't pick and choose which laws you're going to enforce!

  2. Let's see, Obama manages to avoid using Las Vegas as an example of where not to spend money when trying to save during his latest stump speeches. Now he throws Harry a bone with this policy change.

    Reid put Baucus on the super committee which almost guarantees a Republican proposal will be approved to be sent to the Senate where it will fail, giving the Democrats and Obama plenty of fodder for the election run up.

    Naw, Harry couldn't be that devious, could he?

  3. The dimocrats will save the Dream act for a last minute move to garner the illegal ahem cough cough by then legal votes of the undocumented & then the line between Mecico & the U.S. will dissapear

  4. Ah, more selective enforcement of our nation's laws so not to offend the tender racial sensitivities of our illegal-alien sympathizing friends.

    I propose another Dream Act.

    One that takes every foreign invader who sneaks into this country illegally back to his country of origin and politely encourages them to keep the hell out until they can play by the rules like everyone else.

  5. "Spirit of the Law"???
    CONTEMPT of the LAW is more apt!
    This is Contempt..Contempt of Congress, Contempt of legal immigration and Contempt of America itself!

  6. "Let's see, Obama manages to avoid using Las Vegas as an example of where not to spend money when trying to save during his latest stump speeches"

    Typical Tea Bagger comment. You obviously haven't been listening, not to Obama nor those bible-thumping bigots. But that's typical for you Baggers. Maybe you should actually listen instead of selectively hearing what you want. You'd be surprised on what you may learn.

    GET OVER IT ALREADY about what Obama said about Vegas. If you cannot figure it out yourself why Vegas is hurting by now, then you are a certified IDIOT. People like you are scary.

  7. Once again governing against the will of the people.

  8. Det__Munch,

    First, if you have read any of my posts you know I am by far not a supporter of the TEA Party.

    Second, I was making an observation on what was not said this time around. Obama made remarks very similar to those of 2010 but without the Las Vegas reference this time. I did not comment either way if I thought he was correct to use the reference, only that it was lacking this time.

    The observation is germane because Reid, in 2010, did tell Obama to "back off" the Las Vegas remarks.

    Maybe you should think about what it means to have Baucus on the super committee, given his voting record, and ask yourself what Reid is up to.

  9. Regarding: the Mexican immigrant advocate, and Congressional Rep., Luis Gutierrez (D-AZ) - who wants this Dream Act to pass.

    It should be noted that there are 1.9 Million LEGAL Mexican-American descendants living in Arizona (out of 6.3 million total Arizona citizens) - that is about 1/3 of the States' total population.

    However, there are also 300,000 ILLEGAL Mexicans living in Arizona. It was for this reason that Arizona wanted to pass legislation (SB 1070) in January 2010, to aid law officers in their ability to arrest people who had (first) violated some law - and were later found to be in the country illegally.

    When the Arizona law was passed, the majority of 1.9 million legal, law-abiding, U.S. Mexican-American citizens in Arizona FELT THE IMPACT of out-of-state union, and illegal immigrant, protesters - who marched to protest and advocate not doing business with Arizona.

    But the Hispanic population of 1.9 million citizens of Arizona largely supported this law. Why? Because they RESPECT the law, and want to protect their families from crimes conducted by Illegal Aliens who could harm them.

    In a similar vein, I suggest the softening of deportations - as ordered by Obama - is playing into the hands of supporters like Luis Gutierrez - and ILLEGAL ALIENS - who seem to feel that Illegal Aliens have some kind of legal status or rights - over that of U.S. Citizens. I guess Obama thinks it is politically correct to endorse such thinking - so as not to OFFEND Illegal Aliens.

    Quite a few Americans have been murdered or maimed - including Border Patrol Agents - as Illegal Aliens cross the Border, bringing drugs for Mexican Cartels, committing theft, rape, joining gangs, etc. Those Illegal Aliens are REPRESENTATIVE OF what can happen - across the United States - if we don't maintain our alligence to the Rule of Law.

    Without laws and respect for our laws, we open ourselves, our children, our families, our friends, neighbors, and visitors up to becomming harmed by the criminal activities that some Illegal Aliens engage in.

    Thus, the efforts by the Congress and the White House to shield Illegal Aliens from capture and deportation, is causing HARM - not only to Mexican-American Citizens (who are preyed upon), but to all Americans who may become victims of Illegal Alien criminal activities.

    Bottom-line: We need our Government to enforce our laws concerning Illegal Aliens; and not patronize those persons here illegally.

  10. I wonder how many of those opposed to the Dream Act actually KNOW what it entails...

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DREAM_Act

    If you have not; READ IT.
    How can you possibly be opposed to America adding "Citizens" such as those outlined therein?

    If every "Natural Born American Citizen" followed it's protocol, we'd be in much better shape than we are right now.

  11. The government is like a parent, the populace like a child. What message is the parent giving his children when it picks and chooses which 'rules' it decides to obey and which it decides to ignore? Think the children might pick up on that and justify doing the same?

    Bottom line is this. Both Obama and Bush work for the Intl bankers who want us to outsource jobs overseas. They want illegals to drive our wages down. We all know this, they work for the corporations and the military complex. That is why Obama's military budget is bigger than any Bush military budget ever was and why he didn't bring the troops home or close gitmo. Actions speak louder than words. As Berny Mack said, "talk ain't sh-t".

  12. So now we are going to reward illegal behavior.

  13. With the ever-increasing student population of students here in Clark County being illegal aliens, I am in favor of the DREAM ACT, however, not in it's present form, as it still needs work.

    It breaks my heart, these sweet innocent children, come to American schools, growing up through them, many graduating, only to find they are short the American dream of CITIZENSHIP. Their parents do them a real disservice, and it angers me to no end.

    Today, we live with a government that tolerates this and will do zero, or will only do something to shut up those who are upset about this situation. There you have it.

  14. So why do we have laws and people in law enforcement?? Seems like crime actually pays under this empty suit of a president

  15. According to liberal economist, the reason why Texas economy has grown in the past two years is the 1.65 million people added mainly through illegal immigration (famous Obama quote "the border is as secure as it has ever been")
    By the Same Logic: Why aren't California and Nevada BOOMING?

  16. So I see conservatives posting here are for productive people being kicked out ahead of those who have committed violent crimes against citizens and fellow humans. Typical bigotry at work with all it's attendant stupidity on display.