GOP senator says Obama taking 'unilateral action' with deportation policy change

ADVERTISEMENT
Sen. Dean Heller's (R-Nev.) statement came in response to the Obama administration's announcement Friday that it would stop deporting young illegal immigrants and issue work permits provided they meet certain criteria.

Heller said that the country's immigration system needed to be reformed.

"The United States is a proud nation of immigrants and there is no question we need to reform the immigration process" Heller said in the statement Friday. "Our immigration system is bogged down in bureaucracy that is intimidating, confusing, and slow. Almost every day, my office helps someone who has been frustrated by the bureaucratic slog of our immigration system."

But, Heller continued, Obama's decision is not a "long-term solution."

"However, the President has had three years to work with Congress to reform the immigration system and help undocumented children. Unilateral action by the Administration will not provide a long-term solution to this very serious issue. Democrats and Republicans need to come together to solve this problem. Temporary actions will only fuel uncertainty for these children and their families."

Heller's comments are somewhat similar to ones made by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) in response to the policy change. Rubio, who is currently crafting immigration reform legislation and is often mentioned as a possible running mate for presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, said that the policy is "a short term answer to a long term problem." But unlike Heller, Rubio also said the change was "welcome news."

Rubio's proposal provides non-immigrant visas to young immigrants but does not offer a pathway to citizenship. Immigration reform legislation authored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) called the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act similarly aims to keep the same group of young immigrants from being deported but, unlike Rubio's proposal, also includes a pathway to citizenship.

Under the administration's policy, young immigrants living in the country illegally will not be deported as long as they came to the United States before they were sixteen, have lived in the country for five consecutive years, have or are pursuing a high-school diploma or earned their GED or are serving in the military. Additionally, they must not have been convicted of a felony and not currently be older than 30.