Saturday, June 16, 2012

Politically motivated or not, Obama’s immigration order contributes to the common good

The Minn. Coalition on Immigration holds a Faith Action at the Ramsey County Adult Detention Center in St. Paul. Photo credit:  Virginia Bergman

America’s treatment of undocumented immigrants has been a source of much suffering on the part of many.  I’ve attended a few monthly vigils at area detention centers held by The Minnesota Interfaith Coalition on Immigration.

One cannot help being moved by the Coalition’s reports of ill treatment undergone by immigrants separated from their families and thrown in with the general criminal population.

It’s possible the Coalition’s efforts, along with those of other humanitarian groups around the country, helped motivate President Obama’s recent decision to protect 800,000 immigrants from deportation. However, even if Obama’s primary motivation was political – wooing the Hispanic population in an election year – and even if it exceeds or expands presidential power, it can be best understood as a humanitarian act.

Reuters reports Obama’s recent order:

In a move that seemed to be aimed at Hispanics whose enthusiasm for voting in the November 6 election could be crucial to Obama's re-election chances, the president acted to potentially protect 800,000 people from deportation proceedings for at least two years.
Obama, who previously was reluctant to impose such an order even as Republicans in Congress blocked immigration reform bills he supported, called his action "the right thing to do."

His announcement was on the 30th anniversary of a Supreme Court decision that said children of illegal-immigrant parents were entitled to public education in the United States.

It allowed Obama, whose administration has faced criticism from some Hispanic groups for deporting about 400,000 illegal immigrants a year, to draw a sharp contrast between himself and Republican Mitt Romney, his opponent in the election. Romney, in trying to appeal to his party's most conservative voters, has taken a harsh stance against illegal immigration.

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