How Much Longer Will Immigration Debate be Viewed As Easily Dismissed Rather than an Opportunity to be Seized?

Last week, President Obama dashed out West to court donors. Protesters outside the $2500-a-plate dinner at Sony Pictures carried signs that read, “Stop Deporting Dreams.” Since Obama’s arrival at the White House, nearly 1 million illegals have been deported –- almost as many as in George W. Bush’s entire 2nd term. Only 196,000 of those deported in 2010 were individuals convicted of crimes. In his State of the Union Address last January, the President said, “Let’s stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses and further enrich this nation.” That came weeks after Democrats reluctantly supported the so-called Dream Act, a measure that would have put millions of illegals on the path to legal status. It failed to pass the Senate, despite months of debate. Advocates feel the issue has hit a wall. This has put the Obama administration in a tricky situation. If the President blunts enforcement of the country’s immigration laws, he could be branded as soft on crime. But inaction will further alienate Latinos. In the last decade, Georgia’s Latino population has nearly doubled to 854,000, and North Carolina’s has more than doubled to 800,000. Latinos will be crucial in upcoming elections. The demographic shift raises an issue for Republicans too. Many new arrivals to the US are deeply religious, family-oriented and hard-working, Republican consultant Whit Ayers observes, “which is a pretty good definition of a Republican in this age,” he says. Ayers worries Republicans are being short-sighted. “Once Latinos register to vote,” he says, “it’s going to send shockwaves through the established political culture.” (excerpts from Time)

Written by: Harlan York

Immigration Attorney Harlan York is Former Chair, Immigration Section, NJ State Bar Association and Former Co-Chair, NY State Bar Association CFLS Immigration Committee. Mr. York appeared on National Television on CBS This Morning with Charlie Rose and Primer Impacto on Univision, as well as Telemundo, NBC, and PBS. He was honored as First Ever Immigration Lawyer of The Year in NJ by Best Lawyers.

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