Even a year ago, we didn't think there'd be any way we'd be bestowing this award to President Obama, who was solidifying his reputation in the Latino community as a do-nothing president despite his promises that national immigration reform would be among his priorities.
But better late than never. On June 15, Obama lifted a huge weight off the backs of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States by their parents. He declared, in a major policy shift, that his administration "will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and have since led law-abiding lives." It grants temporary immunity — under certain conditions — for nearly 1 million immigrants who have been living in fear of deportation: if they were brought to the United States before they turned 16, are under 30, have been in the United States for at least five years, have no criminal history, have a high school diploma or GED, or served in the military. Obama's plan will also allow these young adults to apply for a work permit that will be good for two years, with no limits on how many times it can be renewed. While it has the elements of the DREAM Act, a similar plan that has failed to pass in Congress, Obama's executive decision is temporary and stops short of establish a path toward citizenship for those young people.