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Twenty-two leaders of a broad political spectrum from the Democratic Senate caucus yesterday issued a letter to President Obama. In it, they urged him to use his authority and grant relief from deportation to DREAM Act-eligible youth.
In addition to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and longtime DREAM Act champion Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) and others facing re-election in 2012 are showing that supporting the DREAMers is not only a common sense and practical approach, but popular with voters who agree that it serves no one to deport these talented young Americans. The Senators write that they “would support a grant of deferred action” and other measures to grant relief to qualified DREAM students. They reiterated their support for the DREAM Act, which passed the House of Representatives and received the support of 55 Senators late last year in December, yet failed to receive the necessary 60 votes in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster and become law. In the letter, the leaders note:
You are the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, and are, of course, obligated to enforce the law. However, the exercise of prosecutorial discretion in light of law enforcement priorities and limited resources has a long history in this nation and is fully consistent with our strong interest in the rule of law. Your Administration has a strong record of enforcement, having deported a record number of undocumented immigrants last year. At the same time, you have granted deferred action to a small number of DREAM Act students on a case-by-case basis, just as the Bush Administration did. Granting deferred action to DREAM Act students, who are not an enforcement priority for DHS, helps to conserve limited enforcement resources.
We would support a grant of deferred action to all young people who meet the rigorous requirements necessary to be eligible for cancellation of removal or a stay of removal under the DREAM Act, as requested on a bipartisan basis by Senators Durbin and Lugar last April.
On March 28, 2010, President Obama spoke at a Town Hall meeting hosted by the television network Univision. During that event, the President stated that it was inappropriate to use his executive powers to grant “temporary protected status” to undocumented workers. He also said that it’s “just not the case” that he can suspend deportations by executive order.
But earlier in March, Univision’s Jorge Ramos asked the President about his Administration’s record deportation numbers. The President said:
“We have refocused our efforts on those who have engaged in criminal activity….We aren’t going around rounding up students. That is completely false.”