President Obama’s new policy on illegal immigrants who arrived as children is a political stunt, not a serious effort to solve a pressing national problem. Unlike the “earned legalization” plan promoted five years ago by President Bush, the Obama policy involves no acknowledgement that the young immigrants, or their parents, knowingly violated the rules when they came to this country and made use of educational, medical and other services to which they weren't actually entitled.
In the Bush plan, illegal immigrants would have had to pay a substantial fine, demonstrate English proficiency, and make up for all back taxes before applying for legal residency. Under the Obama decision, eligible immigrants would get two-year work permits simply by asking for them. This unilateral action arrogantly defies the will of Congress and undermines the concept of “earned legalization” and other proposals essential for real reform.