(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama said the executive action to waive deportation of young illegal aliens and grant work permits to them, which his administration announced today, was only a first step, and he linked his actions to both former President George W. Bush and the nation’s CEOs in calling for comprehensive immigration reform legislation from Congress.
“Just six years ago, the unlikely trio of John McCain, Ted Kennedy, and President Bush came together to champion this kind of reform,” Obama said in a Rose Garden speech on Friday. “And I was proud to join 23 Republicans in voting for it. So there’s no reason that we can’t come together and get this done.”
President Obama has spent much of his presidency pointing out that current problems facing the U.S. economy resulted from the policies of the Bush administration. He asserted this as recently as Thursday at campaign events.
Obama has also been critical of some of the nation’s largest corporations, but in today’s Rose Garden speech he applauded the CEOs.
“As long as I’m president, I will not give up on this issue,” Obama said. “Not only because it’s the right thing to do for our economy, and CEOs agree with me, not just because it’s the right thing to do for our security, but because it’s the right thing to do, period. I believe, eventually, enough Republicans in Congress will come around to that view as well.”
President George W. Bush did support comprehensive immigration reform but the legislation he supported did not pass in the Senate in 2007. Bush moved on to other issues and did not bypass Congress and implement steps like Obama did today by executive fiat.
The policy announced Friday morning by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano would immediately grant to certain young people brought to the United States as children relief from deportation if they pose no risk to national security.
To qualify, these illegal aliens must be under age 30 and have come to the United States under the age of 16; must have continuously lived in the United States for at least five years; must be in school, or have graduated from high school, have a general education development certificate, or be honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; must not have felony convictions, “a significant misdemeanor offense,” multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
The policy is projected to affect at least 800,000 illegal aliens in the United States. These illegals will be eligible to apply for work permits and have them renewed every two years.
Next week, Obama is scheduled to speak at the annual conference of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials in Orlando, Fla.