Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News, April 7, 2014
President Barack Obama stepped back to give Republicans room to pass immigration reform and in swooped the impatience of youth.
Young immigrants, many not here legally, have ramped up their demand that Obama grab what he can now by using his executive authority to suspend deportations and worry later about winning over Republicans to sweeping reforms.
These young immigrants have been dogging Obama for years and got a taste of victory when, before the November 2012 elections, Obama suspended deportations temporarily for young immigrants. That didn’t make them go away.
They are back for more and are joined by more established groups, including the National Council of La Raza, who are increasingly saying it’s time to shift strategies on immigration reform, after more than a decade of no results on comprehensive legislation.
This past weekend a coalition that included the young DREAMers marched to a park near the White House. Other rallies and marches took place in other cities in protest of an estimated 2 million deportations during Obama’s presidency.
Are these young immigrants the latest voices of conscience for Obama and the country, much like the black youth who sat at whites-only lunch counters or the anti-Vietnam War protestors on college campuses? Or are they impulsive idealists who fail to understand that politics is about give and take and timing?
There was some feeling that the young immigrants were ungrateful when the clash escalated last month. That’s when the president of NCLR called Obama “deporter in chief” and the Congressional Hispanic Caucus considered issuing a resolution demanding the president expand deportation deferrals he authorized for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants here illegally, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.
What has made this group of youth unique is that many of them lack legal status in the U.S. They have announced their non-legal status and adopted the mantra “undocumented and unafraid.” Their courage has brought them trust and respect in the immigrant community. Of course, blacks in America had citizenship, but were legally deprived of their rights as citizens.
The youth have shown no allegiance to either party. They have protested politicians on both sides of the aisle and put relief from deportation above partisan politics.
Advocates who have met with Obama suggest the window may be closing, that the GOP has until the end of June before Obama possibly acts.