Dreamers Deferred: The Broken Promise of Immigration Reform in the Obama Years
25 Tex. Hisp. J. L. & Pol'y 1 (Fall 2018)
31 Pages Posted: 12 Sep 2019
Date Written: September 1, 2018
This Article argues that despite the many tangible, material benefits to the quality of life for individual DACA recipients, Obama’s decision to enact DACA through executive action failed on multiple levels. In Part I, I will discuss how the failure of Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform during President Obama’s administration led to the use of his executive powers in June 2012 to grant a humanitarian remedy known as “deferred action” to persons who arrived in the United States without authorization as children through the enactment of the DACA policy and to his later attempt to enact relief for the undocumented parents of U.S. Citizen children in 2014. In Part II, I will discuss the Obama administration’s aggressive immigration enforcement through the policies implemented by his Department of Homeland Security (DHS) during his presidency — particularly, the shameful decision by the Obama administration in 2014 to revive the use of “family detention” and how its continued use along with the Priority Enforcement Program (PEP) defy Obama’s professed commitment to “Families, Not Felons.” In Part III, I will discuss the continuing harm of Obama’s strategies to achieve immigration reform during his presidency, and I argue that his real legacy on immigration resulted in a regression, not progress. Finally, I conclude with a reflection on how future presidents can learn from Obama’s governing mistakes and ensure that the Latino electorate and other constituencies to whom immigration reform remains important will not be taken for granted on this issue again.
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