Under the Obama administration’s new policy, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will begin accepting applications (Reuters) starting August 15 for work permits from young undocumented immigrants so they will legally be able to stay in the United States and work, which is causing election-year stir.
Republicans — who opposed legislation with similar provisions in Congress — say the expected surge in paperwork could hold up proceedings for immigrants trying to enter the United States legally (LAT), which they say could prompt even more illegal immigration.
Hotly debated on the campaign trail, particularly in the 2012 Republican primary, immigration has already proven a divisive issue in the presidential race. After 2008 campaign promises of immigration reform, President Obama was unable to push legislation through Congress, leaving a possible sore spot with Latino voters, and there is debate on how much this new policy might help him at the polls.
But Republicans also continue to struggle to attract Latino voters. Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney looks to be moving toward a more moderate immigration position for the general election, but still has advisers and major supporters considered to hold hard-line anti-immigration views (TPM).
For more on the candidates’ stances, check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates and Immigration.
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Individual states — many of which were taking immigration law into their own hands after saying the federal government had dropped the ball — are backing off on immigration policy in light of the U.S. Supreme Court taking up Arizona’s immigration law, according to a new a new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures. State legislatures passed 20 percent fewer immigration laws in the first half of this year than at the same time last year.
Migration Policy Institute President Demetrios G. Papademetriou wrote at CNN last month that immigration policy is key to maintaining U.S. global competitiveness and a permanent, non-partisan commission to advise the president and Congress immigration matters from an economic vantage point should be created.
– Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor