President Obama appears to have boosted himself politically with his new policy aimed at helping young illegal immigrants. A Bloomberg poll released Tuesday shows likely voters approving the move by a 2-to-1 margin, 64 percent to 30 percent.
Last Friday, Mr. Obama grabbed headlines by announcing that the Department of Homeland Security is stopping deportations of illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria: arrived in the United States before age 16, have lived in the US at least five years, are currently under age 30, have no criminal record, and either are in school, have a high school diploma, or have served in the US military. The directive offers such young immigrants work permits but no path to citizenship.
Some Republicans question the legality of the president’s move, but as a political gambit, Obama appears to have scored. A majority of undocumented immigrants in the country are Hispanic, and Obama has addressed a big sticking point among his Hispanic base – that he hadn’t done enough to help young illegal immigrants, who number in the hundreds of thousands. The DREAM Act, legislation aimed at providing young illegal immigrants with a path to citizenship, has been lying dormant since Republicans retook the House in early 2011.
“[Obama's] decision left Republicans struggling to respond, trapped between alienating their political base and sending a negative signal to the Hispanic community and independent voters,” Bloomberg writes.
In 2008, Obama won the Hispanic vote 67 percent to 31 percent.
Since the Obama announcement, likely Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has refused to say whether he would reverse the policy if elected president. Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida, a leading Republican voice on Hispanic and immigration matters, announced he has dropped plans to introduce his own version of the DREAM Act.