U.S. Republicans on Friday
blasted President Barack Obama over his new immigration policy aimed
at keeping young illegal immigrants in the country temporarily under
Steve King, vice chairman of the House Immigration subcommittee, announced plans to sue the Obama administration over its new measures to grant some illegal immigrant youth work permits and a legal stay in the country.
The Republican congressman stressed that he will be prepared to bring a suit and seek court order to stop the implementation of the policy, because such a policy should be adopted through the legislative, and not the executive, branch of government.
Republican Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said that Obama has put "partisan politics" and illegal immigrants ahead of the American people.
"How can the administration justify allowing illegal immigrants to work in the United States when millions of Americans are unemployed?" he asked in a statement.
Some Republicans criticized Obama's new measure as politically- motivated, aimed to win over Hispanic voters in the country whose number has surged over the years.
However, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney tried to deflect from the debates and questions on the U.S. immigration policy triggered by Obama's announcement.
Romney said on his campaign tour that the immigration policy is "an important matter to be considered" and "solved on a long-term basis," while Obama's executive order is "a short-term matter" that "can be reversed by subsequent president."
Meanwhile, Cuban-American Republican Senator Marco Rubio, one of Romney's running mate hopefuls, bucked his party on immigration by calling the Obama administration's move "welcome news" for those immigrants who will benefit.
But he added that the new measure was a "short-term answer to a long-term problem" and could only make it harder to find a balanced and responsible long-term answer.
U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano on Friday announced a major immigration policy change that exempts certain young people, who are under the age of 30 and were brought to the United States as young children, from deportation or from entering into deportation proceedings. President Obama hailed the new move while prodding Congress to pass a comprehensive reform.
In remarks made to the press from the White House, Obama said the policy is "lifting the shadow of deportation from those young people." But like Napolitano, he insisted it is neither amnesty nor immunity, and is not a path to citizenship.
Up to 1.4 million children and young adults who are in the country illegally could potentially benefit from Friday's announcement about changes in the deportation policies, Pew Research Center said on Friday.
They represent about 12 percent of the 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the country as of 2010, according to a study of Pew's project on Hispanic immigrants.
Nearly 400,000 unauthorized immigrants were deported annually during the first two years of the Obama administration, about 30 percent more than the annual average during the second term of the Bush administration, said the study.
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