The executive order by President Obama delaying deportation of young immigrants who were brought here illegally by their parents took effect Wednesday, with tens thousands of eligible immigrants around the country lining up for as much as a mile to apply for the right to stay.
Applicants, most of whom have grown up in this country and consider it home, must be 30 or younger as of June 15, 2012 and be in school, have graduated from an American high school or have enlisted in the U.S. military. There is a $465 fee for applying for the two-year deferral.
If successful, applicants would be given work permits. However, the program does not include a path to citizenship or permanent legal status. The two-year renewable deferral would presumably end much more quickly if Mitt Romney, who has opposed the order, replaces Obama in January.
In Chicago, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, sponsor of the stalled DREAM Act, spoke to a crowd of more than 10,000 lined up for applications. “You can’t stop this force,” the Illinois Democrat told the crowd. “This is a force of people who have grown up in this country and want to be part of its future. They are creating a moral force beyond a legal force.”
In recent polls, Obama’s lead over Romney among Hispanic voters has grown to 40 percentage points or more, and the selection of running mate Paul Ryan, a stern foe of the DREAM Act, is expected to expand that gap.
““There is no issue that is more alarming for the future national viability of the Republican Party than this one,” Steve Schmidt, who managed John McCain’s 2008 campaign, told Politico. “The precipitous drop in the support levels for Republicans is alarming because it indicates that more and more Hispanics are simply disqualifying from consideration anyone with an ‘R’ next to their name.”
– Jay Bookman