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January 24, 2015

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It’s not the Dream Act, but Obama’s immigration order buoys Las Vegans


Sam Morris

State Sen. Ruben Kihuen hugs Astrid Silva while they gather to listen to President Obama’s announcement of new immigration reforms Friday, June 15, 2012, at the offices of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada.

Immigration Reform

Raphael Lopez gets a hug from Barbara Silva as they listen to President Obama's announcement of new immigration reforms Friday, June 15, 2012 at the offices of the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. Lopez, a student at UNLV, was brought into the United States when he was one-year-old. Launch slideshow »

For Astrid Silva, the news came just in time for her 20th anniversary of coming to this country.

President Barack Obama announced Friday that his administration would stop deporting and give work permits to undocumented immigrants who had entered the country as children. It was a gesture of good faith to fire up the Democrats’ Latino base.

It also surprised his political opponents, as well as those in Las Vegas who will soon benefit from the order.

“I had always pictured that I knew how I was going to react when it happened,” Silva said. “You wait so long for something, and then it finally came ... and I felt like I was in a daze. I kept asking, ‘Are you serious? Is this for real?’”

Silva is one of many undocumented immigrants in the Las Vegas area who have come to be known as “the Dreamers.” The name is coined from long-simmering congressional legislation meant to put young, undocumented college students and military enlistees on a path to U.S. citizenship.

Silva’s parents brought her to the United States illegally from Mexico when she was 4 — a start that has prevented Silva from having a driver’s license, Social Security number, passport and an existence free from the fear that at any time, she might be deported.

It’s been a particularly intense waiting game the past several years as Congress has repeatedly fallen short of passing the Dream Act, most recently in 2010, when the measure failed by just five votes.

The Obama administration’s new policy, which offers two-year work visas to would-be Dream Act recipients, doesn’t go as far as that bill.

“This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It’s not a permanent fix,” Obama said in a speech at the White House that Silva and about two dozen others scrambled to watch on television in Las Vegas on Friday. “This is a temporary stopgap measure ... giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven young people.”

The Dreamers in Las Vegas didn’t seem disappointed.

“I know that it is a work visa, but that’s something in the right direction; that’s a foot in the door. And that’s what I needed,” said Blanca, a 22-year-old student at UNLV who went to the office of the Progressive Leadership Action Network in Nevada to hear the president’s speech.

Even though Blanca is now guaranteed not to be deported and is likely just 60 days away from a work visa, she still shied away from giving her last name — an old habit to protect herself and her undocumented family, who came to the United States from Mexico when she was just 7 months old.

But as she and her mother Amelia absorbed the news, Blanca couldn’t refrain from slowly planning what the changes would mean.

“It’ll give me the opportunity to finally pay for my own schooling. It will lessen the burden on my parents to pay for my education. I will be the one paying my own tuition ... and it will be perfect because I can save up money for law school,” she said.

Obama’s announcement comes as Congress gears up for another battle over the Dream Act in which Republicans have promised a counterproposal.

Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, whose pull with the Hispanic community has put him on every Republican vice-presidential shortlist, had promised to produce an alternative Dream Act. His proposal would give undocumented youths conditional permanent resident status but not a green card — enough to stay in the country but not enough to become a citizen.

But Rubio hasn’t filed or released any legislative language. At this point, the difference between his heralded bill and the president’s policy announcement would at most be one of scope. Under Obama’s order, undocumented youths can apply for renewable two-year work visas. Rubio’s proposal would give them the same status without the requirement to renew.

Republicans awaiting Rubio’s legislation, who have voted against the original Dream Act, say that still poses a problem.

“The president has had three years to work with Congress to reform the immigration system and help undocumented children,” said Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev. “Unilateral action by the administration will not provide a long-term solution to this very serious issue.”

Rubio suggested that Obama’s actions had, in fact, complicated matters for Dreamers.

“By once again ignoring the Constitution and going around Congress, this short-term policy will make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term one,” he said.

Democrats in Congress — conscious of how the Dream Act’s destiny depends on the election — adopted a somewhat more optimistic outlook.

“The president can only do so much administratively, and this measure is temporary and limited by current law,” Sen. Harry Reid said. “The onus is now on Congress to permanently fix our broken immigration system, and I call on my Republican colleagues to help us pass the Dream Act along with comprehensive immigration reform that is tough, fair and practical.”

“Congress must pass the full Dream Act for the young people brought to this country through no fault of their own, who have served this nation and contribute to our society,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley, who is challenging Heller for his Senate seat. “Unfortunately, this will never happen with those in Congress like my opponent, Dean Heller, who opposes the Dream Act.”

But the president’s announcement is not expected to sway the entrenched opinions of politicians in Congress as much as the votes of his Latino constituents — a key constituency for Democrats that has exerted make-or-break electoral weight in Nevada.

Many leaders in that community, such as Fernando Romero, who runs the nonpartisan Hispanics in Politics, had been visibly frustrated with Obama’s immigration policy over the past several months. They criticized him for expending more effort racking up deportations of undocumented immigrants than making good on his 2008 election promise to push for comprehensive immigration reform.

In response, Obama argued in several speeches and interviews that it was outside the scope of his power to change the status quo.

“This notion that somehow I can just change the laws unilaterally is just not true,” Obama said last fall. “We are doing everything we can administratively.”

Congress sets the rules for enforcement and establishes the categories and allotment of visas, but it’s the executive branch’s job to determine how they are distributed and applied. That’s what Obama ultimately decided to do Friday — just days before the Supreme Court is set to deliver a ruling on immigration enforcement.

“I’m sad it did take this long, and I’m sad to know that in the interim, so many young men and women were deported while this came about,” Romero said. “But the major point is that it happened. That gives the rest of us a path not necessarily to just continue fighting for the Dream Act, which is something that should have been passed so many years ago, but now it allows us to concentrate on true immigration reform.”

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  1. Mr. Obama is asking/ordering a law enforcement agency to break the law and not do the job they are sworn to do under the constitution.
    Congress would need to change the law for Mr. Obama to not be exceeding his authority.
    This move is just politcal hype.
    This is the most divisive president I've ever seen.

  2. Dear Ms. Demirjian,

    Our Country is governed by the well-defined and very understandable "rule of law." It was set up that way to protect "we the people" from both an aristocracy, and from a majority rules society.

    Call them Dreamers, Hopers, call them whatever you wish. We are on a path that many of our forefathers predicted. This quote is attributed to Benjamin Franklin, and others:

    "When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic."

    Effectively, Ms. Demirjian, your articles, including this one, always ignore this obvious self-evident truth.


  3. Enjoyed the article, Karoun.

    It should be pointed out that every single Tea/Republican Party politician on the entire planet is blaming President Obama and his entire administration as an excuse why the Congress is blocking, fillibustering, obstructing and voting down the DREAM Act. Stuff that they have voted for in the past.

    The very idea of Rubio always saying he is coming out with legislation on immigration is laughable. He just talks. He has nothing. Never had nothing. Senator Reid already called him out for it and what was Rubio's response? Nothing. STILL nothing down on paper. The chances of Rubio coming out with a DREAM Act for consideration are the same as getting hit with lightning here in Las Vegas.

    I know deep down in my very soul that President Obama is doing the right thing. Gauging from the very, very cautious response by the Tea/Republicans on this, who of course, don't have any ideas, just veiled criticism. And it's funny their reaction. They are acting affronted, but they aren't pushing it. Because they already know they lost any and all Latino vote now now, but FOREVER.

    Heller is a lightweight on this issue. And he knows he is going to get absolutely crushed by the Latino American vote here in Nevada in November. That's why he ain't saying much. He knows if he talks too much about this issue, it would not be politically advantageous. Therefore, you're going to hear pretty much nothing from him about it.

    In short, President Obama just embarassed the 112th Congress. They are now certified to be the most useless, incompetent and ineffective Congress America has ever seen. And it's because of the Tea/Republicans and their constant need to fight anything and everything when they aren't in power. This 112th Congress actually congratulates themselves on their "my way or the highway" approach. It's going to backfire on them. The only ones going to be hitting the highway will be them. One by one, all voted out.

    Obama/Biden 2012! AND a Democratic Party majority in both the House and the Senate. It can be no other way. Because this divided Government crap is surely not working. Time to dump all Tea/Republicans and relegate them to the scrap heap.

  4. The American system of governance is very broken. When you have years of political gridlock, and LAWMAKERS cannot come to a reasonable and final decision about much of anything, NONE of them deserve our support or reelection.

    This move by President Obama exemplifies the very serious and grave situation ALL in the Executive Branch of government are in. It seems that politicians are prompted and moved only by making decisions that will favorably affect their upcoming campaigns for reelection for office. Being diligent and expedient are NOT in their vocabulary any longer.

    No one wants to deal with the issue of innocent children brought into the USA by their criminal parents. These parents should and need to be punished, as they broke the laws of the land. Their children did not, from are left without any legal standing. These children need a path towards citizenship, and LAWMAKERS have failed to pass anything. So President Obama made the carefully timed and crafted move. Will it help him? Yes. Will it stand in court, probably not, as it is a temporary attempt, a statement.

    Perhaps this action by President Obama will put a fire under LAWMAKERS to finally pass some immigration legislation. As Senator Harry Reid declared, "The onus is now on Congress to permanently fix our broken immigration system, and I call on my Republican colleagues to help us pass the Dream Act along with comprehensive immigration reform that is tough, fair and practical." Time to make a decision or get voted out. Americans need our LAWMAKERS to actively WORK, not keep kicking the political can down the road, year after year!!!

    Blessings and Peace,

  5. Don't unpack. Expulsions and deportations will ramp up in January. ICE will know where to find you and your parents, so you'll be the first on the list.

  6. It's even a dumb political move. 3/4 of Americans insist YOU MUST LEAVE. Those who emigrated legally get priority for relatives to come here legally. So those happy by this illegal action are not able to vote legally. And the voters are not happy that a candidate puts illegals first in line for jobs, along with their 7 million parents in non-agricultural jobs here, when more than 14 million Americans are out of work and face long-term unemployment, destitution, homelessness. Obama really doesn't want another term. He could man up and resign now, rather than January. He's done enough damage.

  7. A poll in FL shows 69% disapprove of this, 26% approve and 5% undecided. This shows just how out of touch Obama is. Get the kids and the parents will follow them out of the country, then they can apply to enter like everyone else. Now there are 2 problems, one these kids will end up getting the parents in thru visa and second all the illegal that come will now be even more because they know this will happen again. It may not be the childs' fault they were brought here but we have fed, clothe, school and medically treat them for years, they got their fair share of the system already. The ones who have done very well in school can get work visas from companies looking to hire young talent just like every other immigrant has to go thru.

  8. I'd be smiling too if I were an illegal, they break our laws, get free money for education, free healthcare, free everything and all they need to do use the infamous liberal hype, I'm not illegal, I'm undocumented, you're racist, you owe me, I'm entitled to all that American taxpayers owe me, your laws don't apply.

    Essentially what Obama has done is broke the law he was hired to enforce. I am so glad this year is election time; America can't survive 4 more years of that idiot and his staff. I know it will take a couple of years to undo most of what that dumbass has done and I also understand it will take generations for the debt to be lowered and to get rid of the trolls he's created since he took office.

    The best part about his term, a liberal won't be elected to that office for a couple generations now that the majority of the people realize that a liberal holding that office is too stupid to know what is best for Americans.

  9. Children who were brought here by their parents while minors had no control over those actions.

    Obama is suspending a law under debate, a law which is denying these people 'equal protection', a Constitutional guarantee. Therefore, that deportation law should be suspended until their rights have been upheld.

    The Dream Act would have upheld those rights but those like Dean Heller oppose the Act. You'll notice that the overwhelming majority of Congressmen who oppose the Dream Act are Christians. They claim their thoughts and actions in life are directed by their religious value systems, their personal beliefs and reverence to God.

    Would Jesus vote for deportation? Jesus also broke Roman laws and paid the price when his disciples took off running and left him the prisoner of the Romans. Breaking the law is not the issue when morals and rights that are in the balance. Any law that suspends a person's rights should be broken.

    It seems the Christians in Congress are vilifying Obama for doing what Jesus would have done. That verifies the fact that mainstream religion in America is nothing more than a social, financial and political action committee that is wrapped up in a robe and carries a cross. Their real reverence is to guns and money.

  10. This action is:

    Pandering to special interest groups and his base;

    An effort to shore up falling polls;

    An effort to buy votes;

    A pre-emptive action designed to undermine and co-opt the very similar plan proposed by Florida Senator Marco Rubio;

    An attempt to side step the US Constitution which gives the authority for establishment of laws via the legislative process.

    A likely illegal act in that the president was not given the right to rule by fiat in our constitution.

    In short, the president once again used means destined to cause enmity between the legislative and the administration branch and a vehicle that may have to be tested in the courts to determine its constitutionality; and, to buy votes and find favor for purely political reasons and timed to benefit him in the upcoming presidential election. If the president really cared about this issue and these folks he would have:

    Worked hand in hand with Senator Reid and Speaker Pelosi when he had a clear majority in both houses of congress in his first two years; and,

    Worked with the opposition party who has indicated numerous times their willingness to cooperate and compromise on this issue providing a) permanent legislative action was taken to insure constitutional integrity; and,

    Included measures to secure the border against future illegal entry by non-citizens and measures to protect and respect the legal sovereignty of the US.

    Unfortunately the president has chosen to obfuscate, ignore, refuse to cooperate and instead has acted to falsely blame, accuse and malign for political purposes those stepping forward with their hand extended. He knows that regardless of the outcome he has made himself look good with those groups whom he seeks to influence. After all, he can continue to blame the opposition even if the allegations are false, why change now?

    You can't make this stuff up and no one can embarrass this president beyond what is caused by his own actions.

  11. crystal says " one knows how undocomanted immergrants live to live in fear..."

    Yes, it's sad that illegal immigrants have to live in fear that any day they could be deported.

    But by the same rights isn't it sad that bank robbers and other criminals have live in fear that any day they could be arrested and sent to prison?

    Sorry, but no sympathy whatsoever for criminals who live in fear of getting caught and punished for their crimes.

    As for children who were brought into the country illegally....again sorry, but the US Government isn't the bad guy for deporting them...their parents are the bad guys for dragging the kids into it when they decided to break the law.

    And children born in the US to illegal parents...seems pretty simple. If a kids parents rob a bank and then get caught, no one shouts "Wait, we can't send the parents to jail...what about the children!". In that case the kids go to relatives if it's an option and if not go into foster care. How is it any different when the crime is "illegal immigration"? Either way the parents need to accept the consequences of their choice to break the law. If the criminal parents choose to have kids, knowing darn well that they could be ripped away from their kids at any time...then once again it's the parents who are the bad guys. They chose to put their children at that risk.

  12. "This is the most divisive president I've ever seen."

    By implementing Marco Rubio's plan for immigration?

    That doesn't make sense. Try again.

    The GOP moves the goal posts again. Three years ago, the GOP CANDIDATE FOR PRESIDENT co-sponsored the DREAM Act.

    A few decades ago, the GOP President granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

    They worship at the altar of Reagan but always forget that Reagan was the citizenship fairy.

    Now Rubio's abandoned his own plan for immigration reform, a piece of which Obama just implemented. Even he sees the rabid hysteria on the right is too much to contend with these days.

    GOP leadership: abandon the plan!

  13. I have to laugh at these useless Tbaggers because they know the President just Checkmated them. LOL

  14. Illegal executive order will cost us and has been costing us at least $10 BILLION A YEAR. We can't afford to be more concerned about them than us. Let's do the math: 800,000 illegal kids that graduate or.... so let's round up to a million and that's not counting all the illegal kids that don't graduate or do the military. K-12 costs us AT LEAST $10,000 per kid per year. So let's use the underestimated $10K per year: 1,000,000 kids x $10,000 is 10,000,000,000 or $10 Billion a year and that's just the class rooms--double, triple or more for ALL illegal kids. What about school buses, free lunches, free immunizations, free UMC, free housing, free social welfare benefits, free non-profit clothing/shelter/food, cost of law enforcement..... Do you really think that 15-20 million illegals, average adult age about 35 years old, have only a million kids? They have all those anchor babies they are claiming are citizens and they get free everything courtesy of the American taxpayers.
    Ya wonder why we're broke?

  15. Tea..
    Think what Obama could do
    Cancel all studen loan repayment
    Order the IRS to stop taking money from our checks
    Order the Treasury Department to increase social security payments by $XXX..and maybe another X.
    Order the military out of all foriegn countries
    Order the EPA and other agencies to "monitor" without warrant or probable cause..using drones and other high tech technology..for any violation of "green goddess laws"
    Order..anything the "president" believes is fair and right.or necessary to secure his continued "presidency" and/or what anyone wants who cries loud enough and will vote democrat
    What power the President has to do us all good for our own good according to his whims and philisophical bent!

  16. Who cares how they came to America, they're here illegally and sucking of our resources that are for Americans, not them. They take up classroom seat and many other seats that we pay for and I don't want my money being wasted on them.

    People fail to realize or understand that America can't afford to pay for them and we can't afford to let our kids continue have their education taken away from them to accommodate the illegals. It's wrong and I am sick and tired of the excuses or blaming American's for what they've done to us.

    Some questions for you:

    How many of your public agencies spend our money on printing documents in different languages?

    How many job advertisements require bilingual?

    How many recordings say press one for English or it automatically speaks Spanish?

    How many school districts complain about overcrowding?

    How many public agencies have budget problems?

    How many billboards do you see daily that are not English?

    How many people do you give money to that doesn't speak English?

    How many people do you know that are simply American?

    Liberals have designed a system that suits their needs and goals and we've been letting them get away with it, it's all in the name of being politically correct, not in my life. My way of being correct, pack their bags or round them up and put them on a way trip to Mexico and let them come here legally. They're not wanted here and I don't care how they feel, they're part of the problem and I am not going to succumb to any part of a liberal agenda.

  17. This is how other countries deal with immigration aka "work infiltrators":
    Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the cabinet at its weekly meeting that an additional plane will leave next week. The operation to repatriate illegal work infiltrators to their countries of origin will be carried out "in an orderly and dignified manner," he explained

  18. Xrtra: look up Mexico's constitution, we'd never be allowed to do what they do here there. We'd be imprisoned and our kids wouldn't be citizen if born there and they wouldn't get the free ride. We'd get nothing and we best like it. We can't even drive there without having Mexican insurance or we'd be arrested. The liberals here have conditioned the people to think that by not allowing them or giving them our freebies, we're racists. They've infested into our culture and every aspect of America where our culture and our rights no longer exists. All they need to do gather in crowds and scream racisms loud enough and the politicians are to freaking scared to tell them no in fear of losing a vote where they kowtow to ethnic backgrounds, not Americans or for America.

  19. xtra: Refreshing post. Also note that there are no lengthy and expensive deportation processes. SCOTUS has not ruled that deportation procedures are necessary when the person cannot show s/he entered the country illegally. Let's save a few billion more and forget deportation and GO WITH EXPULSION--immediate and inexpensive--by buses and trains, convoy.

  20. this video of Obama say's it all.

  21. BushDepression: Do ya think Arizona will reap the rewards--State laws upheld by SCOTUS--already was--that employers of illegals can be cited / disciplined. So maybe those illegals don't go home, they go to Nevada. Then what? We gonna pay for all of them too?

  22. its2hot: WOW. Even President O. says IT IS A VIOLATION of law.

  23. If one really thinks about it, Obama relatives are here illegally and haven't left even though ordered too do so.

    The questions I ask myself, how many illegal immigrant relatives does Obama have in the US?

    With his law breaking ways, it's no wonder he hasn't fallen far from the apple tree, he is following is the footsteps of the gene pool.

  24. The national dialogue continues. Let's see some leadership from the incumbent and retrace our steps? Anyhow, the national debate needs to consider that western states are more inundated and paying for all the illegals. Second, would allowing illegal teens to stay for 2 years on a work permit mean their parents who broke the law go home? What about their anchor baby siblings who claim to be citizens? What about all the costs for social welfare, K-12 and such for all of the above? We cannot afford to keep them. Not if we want to work, eat, sleep indoors, raise our own kids....