Americans in Every Way but Not on Paper May Save Obama at the Polls

The move by Obama to allow young illegal aliens to stay put, punting the DREAM Act back into the news, may be a brilliant strategic move or a sneaky election ploy.

At this point in the election campaign, most people are viewing Obama’s decision to allow young illegal aliens under the age of 30-years-old to stay put as a sneaky election ploy to try and garner their votes.

The day the President announced his DREAM-like policy regarding young illegal aliens, he was wildly heckled by a member of the press core after saying words to the effect that these illegals are Americans in every way conceivable but not on paper. If that was the case, what is the hold up with immigration reform? If that is the case, why wait until this late in the game to do something about it? His executive order puts a stop to their deportation – for now. How this will affect immigration reform in the future is uncertain. How the House will deal with the issue after an election is another can of worms.

By and large, those who heard the announcement consider his hubris as pandering to the young Latino contingent, hoping to secure their votes when the time comes. Nonetheless, the timing of the policy change will shake up the balance of the political forces as they continue to woo voters. It is the first clearly defined move towards a policy change affecting immigrants, one that many Latino voters may well appreciate, whether they are under 30 years of age or not.

There is another reason why people are sitting up and taking notice. The policy change will put some zip back into Obama’s campaign, one that has been staggering about weakly for several weeks. Add that to the Supreme Court decision on mandatory health care being acceptable, and you may have a winner shaping up. The Latin vote is huge and still hanging out there in the wind. If it can be swayed, Obama may have a second crack at achieving immigration reform. However, he’d best ensure that second crack, should he be re-elected, actually takes on a life and does get implemented. There will be no further chances after that.

While the President’s executive order does not go as far as opening the door to citizenship, it does mean illegal aliens cannot be deported if they were brought to the country before turning 16 and are younger than 30-years-old; have lived here for five years and have no criminal record; and have earned a GED, graduated from high school or served their country overseas. It boils down to a two-year work permit with unlimited renewals as needed.

If Obama does sway the Latin vote, he has precious little time to take action and make good on his first year campaign promise. Dare we hold out hope that something might happen? Hard to say, but if it does, it will substantially change the immigration system, hopefully for the good.

Sally Odell — Rifkin & Fox-Isicoff, PA is an immigration lawyer in Miami with immigration law offices in Orlando and Miami Florida. To learn more, visit