We’ve been waiting for this day for some time. Just ask Congressman Luis Gutierrez, as we did back in July.
Gutierrez: Wait till the 15th of August when thousands, and I can tell you, thousands upon thousands upon thousands in cities across this country sign up in auditoriums and gyms and schoolhouses, congressional offices. I want to sign up.
Spitzer: You made a hugely important point. That will be the day that crystallizes the support, that makes it real what he has done.
And here we are. Today is the first day, under President Obama’s deferred action initiative, that almost 2 million young undocumented immigrants can apply for temporary work permits and safety from the threat of deportation.
And across the country, just as Congressman Gutierrez foretold, families rejoiced as they rushed to file the paperwork. From the congressman’s home state of Illinois to the border state of Texas, from the nation’s capital — Washington, D.C. — to the coasts of California.
Now while the executive order responsible for all of this includes much of the language of the Dream Act, it is not the Dream Act. A huge step in the right direction to be sure, but as it stands, this order needs to be renewed every two years.
And that is why a newly elected President Obama will need to refocus on the Dream Act and make it the law of the land.
However, should Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ascend to the White House, they could swiftly overturn this presidential order. And according to their articulated positions on immigration issues, they would. Both Romney and Ryan vigorously oppose the Dream Act, which is a shame.
But here’s another point: With the Paul Ryan pick, the Republican Party seems to be solidifying itself as the party of the angry white male, with a huge gender gap and enormous margins among black and Latino voters favoring the Democratic Party. Romney and Ryan, due to either their ignorance or apathy, whichever it may be, about the changing demographics of this country, have missed an enormous chance to realize the importance of a sensible, moral and truly American immigration policy.
At a time when the GOP needs to be courting the Latino vote more than ever, the Romney-Ryan ticket doubled down on the GOP’s desire to be foolishly rigid on immigration policy and radically reformulate and limit programs immensely popular among Latino voters, such as Medicare and Medicaid.
The bottom line is that today is a day to celebrate. President Obama is doing the right thing by offering young immigrants, more often in this country through no action of their own, a chance to live and work openly, free from the fear of deportation.
But the Republican Party couldn’t be more wrong in its approach. Its shortsightedness on immigration policy won’t just hurt it in November. It could have a long-lasting impact on generations to come. Let’s hope the Republican Party evolves on this issue.
That’s “My View.”