The Latest Presidential Order: Sign of Hope or Political Game?
Aug 22, 2011 by M. Daniel Carroll R. | 1 Comments
On Friday of last week, August 19th, the Obama Administration announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will redirect its deportation focus to concentrate on those, who have a criminal record or could be potential terrorist risks. The news was communicated to members of Congress by Janet Napolitano, Secretary of DHS.
Currently, there are some 300,000 deportation cases in process. Supposedly, legal action will not continue for those without criminal records, but legal action can be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. At first glance, this is good news potentially for thousands of individuals and their families. I personally know people who are in this situation. One example is Juan (not his real name), who has been with his wife in the United States for a decade. They have three young children, two born here. His wife is a stay-at-home mom, and Juan has worked construction. They are a wonderful Christian family, actively participate in their church, and are hard workers. They came from Ciudad Juárez in Mexico, that cauldron of violence, looking for a new life. He was stopped by police, who followed and then pulled him over without cause. He had violated no traffic laws, but, because in the state where he lives undocumented immigrants cannot get a drivers license, he was taken away right there. He has been able to get a stay of deportation for two and a half years now. Will this new decree give this family, and others like them, some hope?
What is not clear to me at this date is whether those in this condition of not having any sort of criminal record can obtain a work visa. Neither does the new law, as far as I can tell, lay out a path to some sort of legal status. In a sense, then, these individuals will continue in limbo, in a no-man’s land of perhaps having permission to work but with little way forward for them or their children.
Many who work and pray for just comprehensive reform are a bit skeptical of this move by the president. His administration has deported more people in its first two years than any other administration in history. The president actively courted the Hispanic vote in the last election and made many promises, and he continues to speak in the same manner before Hispanic audiences; all the while the large numbers of detentions and deportations went on apace.
This new decree was revealed Friday, while Congress was not in session. It was not announced by the president, who is on vacation with his family, but by Secretary Napolitano. Is this a political move to gain back the trust of Hispanic voters but doing so “under cover of darkness” to avoid political fall-out? Time will tell.
For the moment, many rejoice. We will see what the coming months bring. May this be the slow beginning towards constructive change.