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Promises of immigration law reform haunt administration

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President Obama spoke on immigration law, as well as health and education, in the keynote address before the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Convention in the District of Columbia last month. He renewed the commitment of his administration to immigration law reform, though some observers noted there have been more deportations under his presidency than any president before him. He offered that his government is enforcing "flawed laws" in the most humane and best possible way. Many in the audience indicated their desire that he use his executive powers to stop the unprecedented number of deportations, more than 1 million since the start of his term.

The Dream Act, federal legislation that would have created a meaningful path to citizenship for millions of undocumented students, was rejected by Congress. California just passed its own state version of the Dream Act, permitting undocumented students to seek and obtain privately funded scholarships.

Nevertheless, deportation was the main topic of conversation at the convention, and a straw poll confirmed it was considered the most important issue for Latinos in the US today.

The consensus was that little discretion was being used by the Department of Homeland Security in handling deportations, resulting in the cases of non-criminals handled similarly to cases involving criminals. Many want the deportation of non-criminal immigrants stopped. There are approximately 50 million currently Latinos living in the U.S., comprising about 9 percent of the general population.

With a record number of deportation cases, immigration law has taken on a new urgency in the District of Columbia and across the country. There is a disparity between the laws on the books and the outlook of the administration. Many feel there is an atmosphere where government representatives say one thing but another. An attorney experienced in deportation defense and other immigration issues may offer some comfort and understanding to those seeking legalization of their residency status.

Source: The New America Media, "Obama Promises Reform, NCLR Sees Deportations," Valeria Fernández, July 26, 2011

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