In short, they must legally enter the United States, just as thousands of other immigrants do every year.
The DHS made the announcement Monday in aFederal Register journal entry, stating that illegal aliens who can show proof that they are related to a U.S. citizen will be awarded an "unlawful presence waiver." The administration asserts that the rule will "create efficiencies for both the U.S. government and most applicants." The reason for this is not explained in the announcement, which has given the American public 60 days to comment. "That’s only a formality," notes the conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch, "since the DHS has indicated that the change is pretty much a done deal."
According to Judicial Watch, the measure is an extension of the Obama administration’s "bigger plan to blow off Congress by using its executive powers to grant illegal immigrants backdoor amnesty."
A previous initiative enacted by the administration tightened the leash on U.S. immigration enforcement by reviewing thousands of pending immigration cases and proceeding to dismiss those filed against illegal immigrants with no serious criminal records. "This situation is just another side effect of President Obama's failure to deliver on his campaign promise to make immigration reform a priority in his first year," Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas, pictured above) said at the time. "Until he does, state and local authorities are left with no choice but to pick up the slack for prosecuting and detaining criminal aliens."
Officially, the administration issued a directive on June 17, 2011 that was specifically intended to restrict most deportations to those illegal aliens with criminal records or who came to the United States as a child or student (among other discretionary factors).
"It makes no sense to spend our enforcement resources on these low-priority cases when they could be used with more impact on others, including individuals who have been convicted of serious crimes," Cecilia Muñoz, Director of Intergovernmental Affairs, wrote last August in a White House blog post. "This means more immigration enforcement pressure where it counts the most, and less where it doesn’t," she added. "That’s the smartest way to follow the law while we stay focused on working with the Congress to fix it."
The response to the administration’s directive was rather explicit, according to a February report by the Syracuse University Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. In the last three months of 2011, deportations have plummeted, as The New American reported in a February article:
The number of deportation proceedings instituted from October to December 2011 by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) plunged to 39,331, a 33-percent decline from the 58,639 filings documented the previous quarter. "Filings are typically lower at this time of year, but even adjusting for this seasonal drop-off and for late reporting," the [Syracuse University] report noted, "there appear to have been over 10,000 fewer deportation filings than would have been expected last quarter."
Following the administration’s June 2011 directive — which consequently ignited the plunge in deportations — many observers claimed the measure was largely political, particularly considering deportations have spiked to record levels under Obama’s tenure. Averaging about 400,000 per year, the Obama administration’s deportation numbers are 30 percent higher than the average when George W. Bush left office. In response to the increase in deportations, combined with the President’s failure to implement "comprehensive immigration reform," there has been an outcry from the Hispanic community — a growing segment of the Democratic electorate.
"Latino immigrant voters know that the Alabama and Arizona laws didn’t come about from Democrats. They’re aware the Obama administration is fighting those laws. They know that Republicans blocked the DREAM Act. They know that Mitt Romney is talking about massive self-deportation," Frank Sharry, executive director of the immigration advocacy group America’s Voice, said in February. "And they’re angry and disappointed that the Obama administration promised a legislative breakthrough, didn’t deliver it, but has delivered on record deportations."
In underscoring his efforts to secure another four-year residence in the White House, the President has assured Hispanic voters that he would use his second term to push immigration reform. "My presidency is not over," he told a Hispanic audience in February, responding to a question about his failure to deliver an immigration bill. "I’ve got another five years coming up. We’re going to get this done."
All in all, critics have surmised that the President’s recent measures to curb deportations of illegal immigrants indicate that he is pandering to the Hispanic sector of the electorate. And the result is a less secure southern border and a motion that rewards criminal behavior.
"The Obama administration's decision to expand its backdoor amnesty plan to cities across the United States endangers Americans and insults law enforcement officials," said Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), pointing to the White House’s new immigration agenda. "The Obama administration's refusal to enforce immigration law encourages more illegal immigration and rewards those who have broken our laws by allowing them to remain here and apply for work authorization."