DREAM Act via Executive Order – Can it be Done?

President Obama and others have supported the DREAM Act, proposed legislation which would give children of illegal immigrants a path to citizenship if they joined the armed forces or went to college. President Obama and others have supported the legislation, saying that it ensures that children do not pay for the mistakes of their parents. Some see the legislation as a possible solution to undocumented immigration. However, the law has not been passed, in part due to largely Republican opposition. Many Republicans feel that the DREAM Act offers amnesty for undocumented immigrants and encourages more undocumented immigration by not holding immigrants accountable for their actions.

The DREAM Act has received wide-spread support among the public, however. During a recent immigration rally in Manhattan, for example, advocates and supporters from the New York Immigration Coalition and other groups held signs calling for the passing of the legislation. Some groups are appealing to President Obama to also sign an executive order to halt the deportation and arrest of immigrant minors. Some of the groups hoping for the executive order are willing to take their protest across the nation. Some are already sitting in at the campaign headquarters in Denver, hoping for the executive order.

The protesters may be touching a delicate issue. While presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has taken a tough stance on immigration, President Obama has been accused of not delivering on immigration promises. He was not able to get the DREAM Act passed, for example, due to opposition in Congress. Under the Obama administration, as well, more than 400 000 deportation orders have been issued – more than under any other president. While the president promised to review deportation orders, only about 2% of orders have been closed. The sit ins and protests may highlight these issues in an election year and may even hurt Obama’s campaign.

According to experts, there may be about 700,000 immigrants in the US who are eligible to take part in the DREAM Act if it were to pass. Advocates say that a Dream Executive Order could give these youth a new chance and would reduce their risk of unfair deportation. Under the proposed executive order, immigrants under the age of 35 who arrived with undocumented parents before the age of 16 would qualify. Only those undocumented immigrants who did not have criminal convictions would qualify. For those who qualified, the executive order would grant travel permission and employment authorization as well as the suspension of any deportation orders. Those who qualified for green cards would be able to apply for them.

While experts say that the president does have the authority for such an executive order, however, it is not likely that he will sign one. Signing such an order would create huge backlash from those opponents who object to the DREAM Act. The order would also alienate Americans and voters who are opposed to the legislation.