Obama's immigration overhaul: Did he go too far?

The president will no longer deport young illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. when they were kids. Critics decry the move as election-year overreach

Immigrant students rally against deportation Friday: President Obama will at least partially comply with their wishes, halting the deportation of law-abiding undocumented immigrants younger t
(Image credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

President Obama announced Friday that he is immediately halting the deportation of all illegal immigrants age 30 and under who arrived in the U.S. as children and have abided by the law ever since. The president described the policy overhaul, which he implemented by executive order, as a bid to make the immigration system "more efficient, more fair, and more just." (His Rose Garden announcement of the new rule was briefly interrupted by a heckling reporter.) Roughly 800,000 illegal immigrants will now have the right to request work permits and stay in the country, although they won't have the path to citizenship Democrats had proposed in the DREAM Act, which Congress blocked in 2010. Obama's move is temporary — as an executive order, it can easily be nixed by future presidents — and falls short of the far-reaching reform that Latino groups have long demanded. But it still draws a sharp contrast between Obama's policies and Mitt Romney's much harder line against illegal immigrants. What should we make of Obama's new immigration policy?

This is a stroke of political genius: Obama's immigration plan is "one of those rare masterstrokes that is both eminently good policy and great politics to boot," says Harold Meyerson at The Washington Post. It's the right thing to do by these immigrants, and will boost Obama's lead among Latinos in key swing states, such as Nevada, New Mexico, and Colorado. Romney's Tea Party base will want him to pledge to rescind the order, but if he does, "Latinos will turn out in droves to vote against him." The president's new rule "hit the sweet spot for him. And put Mitt Romney in a hell of a fix."

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us