President Barack Obama did the right thing by signing an executive order that relieves the fear of deportation for 800,000 young immigrants brought to this country by their parents. With his signature, he has provided new hope for these residents, enhancing their ability to pursue a college education, career advancement and become more productive members of American society.
And, yes, it's a good political move.
What it is not, unfortunately, is a permanent solution. It does not provide a path to citizenship.
Immigrants age 30 and younger, who arrived before age 16 and have lived in the United States for five years crime free, can qualify for a two-year deferral of deportation, which could be renewed. Qualifying immigrants must be in school, high school graduates or military veterans in good standing. The order will allow them to get driver's licenses and other necessary documentation to be active residents.
Outraged claims that the president acted illegally are without merit. Presidents have the executive right to set immigration priorities, which is what President Obama is doing. The priority should be focusing resources on criminals and stemming a new flow of illegal immigrants, not deporting good, young people to nations that would be alien to them.
During the Obama administration 1.1 million immigrants have been deported, the most since 1950s, and border security has improved. Extremists on the issue refuse to acknowledge these facts and demand an unreasonable, unworkable, throw-them-all-out policy.
President George W. Bush backed a sensible solution with a path to citizenship for current immigrants in the nation illegally, with tougher policies to prevent a continued influx. Members of his own Republican Party in Congress blocked the legislation. In 2010 President Obama pursued the Dream Act, providing a path to citizenship for young, productive immigrants, only to see a Republican minority procedurally block that legislation in the Senate.
To capture the Republican nomination, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney played to the anti-immigration wing of the party during the primaries, opposing the Dream Act and providing no answers - except tighter border control - to meet the challenge of dealing with illegal immigrants in this country.
Now Mr. Romeny is in a quandary. For fear of alienating Hispanic voters he is unwilling to state that he would overturn the current president's executive order. Worried that he will anger the anti-immigrant zealots on his right, he's equally unwilling to endorse the executive order. Mr. Romney doesn't know whether to flip or flop.
But both he and President Obama know that growing Hispanic populations in such key states as Florida, Colorado, Nevada and Virginia could have a big impact on the November election. And the president likes where he is now positioned politically just fine.