In an early afternoon press conference held in the White House Rose Garden, the president outlined some new rules for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.. Young illegal immigrants would no longer be deported so high schoolers looking to graduate can breathe a lot easier knowing they can go on to apply for employment or financial aid for college. One high school student in New York smilingly said she no longer has to live in "shame and fear" for what her future would hold and thanked the president for "thinking of us."
The president said this was a move towards a "more humane deportation policy" and gives children who came here very young, a chance to go on to be productive in this country, adding, "These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they're friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag--they are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one--on paper."
Though he said this was the humane route to take, the president added that this new policy was in no way a panacea for all of we face but more of a temporary measure, saying: "This is not amnesty, this is not immunity, this is not a path to citizenship...this is not a permanent fix."
Under the new policy, anyone who entered the U.S. before the age of 16 and are still under 30, with no criminal record, will have an opportunity to apply for work permits, effective immediately. But they also have to meet a list of other requirements before they can apply.
They must have lived within our borders continuously for five years, must be enrolled in school or have a high school diploma or GED or have served in the military.
But critics accuse him of pandering to the Latino vote. Republicans feathers are very ruffled by this latest stance on illegal immigration-- with the exception of New York City's mayor Micheal Bloomberg, who praised the president for breaking Washington's gridlock on this important issue.
Other Republicans, however, say Obama is "overstepping his bounds," calling the new proposed measure unconstitutional. These same republicans have shot down immigration reform, voting a resounding no for the Dream Act, which would have given undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. for a number of years, a "path to citizenship."
Presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney weighed in hours after the president's unveiling, taking a swipe at the new immigration policy. Staying on point in his campaign message of "Obama is bad for America," he criticized in a passive aggressive way, telling reporters that although we had to find long-term solutions to our illegal immigration problem, the president's new plans would make achieving that "more difficult."
A bit of early afternoon drama unfolded when at one point during his announcement, president Obama was rudely interrupted by a reporter from an online blog. The president was clearly annoyed when he answered curtly, that he wasn't taking any questions at the that time and would like to be allowed to finish his speech.