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Amnesty plan gets mixed reviews

Posted: June 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.
Updated: June 17, 2012 1:30 a.m.
 

There’s not much President Barack Obama can do to boost the economy in the next five months, and that alone might cost him the November election.

 But on a range of social issues, Obama is bypassing Congress and aggressively using his executive powers to make it easier for gays to marry, women to obtain birth control, and, now, young illegal immigrants to avoid deportation.

It’s a political gamble that might fire up conservatives, many of whom remain cool to Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Democrats think it’s more likely to inspire enthusiasm among groups that were crucial to Obama’s 2008 victory — young voters, women and Hispanics.

Opinions in the Santa Clarita Valley concerning the president’s use of executive powers to order his administration to place a halt on deporting illegal immigrants between 16 and 30 who fit certain criteria were mixed Saturday.

“I guess we can send the senators and representatives home, since the president has made the decision for all of us,” said David Veal, of Saugus. “The cost of government (would get) decidedly less since we don’t have to pay Congress to decide laws for us.”

Sidestepping Congress, where immigration proposals have languished for years, Obama acted to make illegal immigrants immune from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a U.S. high school or earned a GED diploma or certificate, or served in the military.

Millions of people in the United States, especially younger voters, rallied to Obama’s 2008 campaign because they saw it as a barrier-breaking crusade giving voice to those weary of the Iraq war and falling economic opportunities. Democratic strategists hope to reignite some of that enthusiasm this year.

With significant economic gains so hard to achieve, a possible route is to be seen as expanding or protecting the rights of gays and lesbians, young Hispanics and young women.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the president isn’t relevant, Veal said.

“We are a country of laws, and they must be upheld until changed,” he said. “One man shouldn’t be able to decide anything for an entire country.”

Another Santa Clarita Valley resident said the ban could help his family.

“I think it’s good — it’s good because my family works hard,” said a Newhall resident who wished to remain anonymous.

The ban would not directly affect the man due to his age, he said. But it could affect his American-born teenage sons, he said.

“This is the right thing to do,” Obama said in the Rose Garden as he outlined the new policy Friday.

Obama looks like the bigger risk-taker, and he doesn’t have many options, according to most pundits.

He is constrained by a complex, interrelated and frail global economy, and by a Republican-run House. Together, they severely limit his ability to influence the struggling U.S. economy, which Obama says needs more investments in education, renewable energy sources and other areas.

Using executive powers and persuasion, however, Obama can expand the rights of gays and lesbians in civil and military life; direct Catholic-affiliated employer insurance plans to cover contraceptives; and protect hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants from being deported.

Obama took that last step Friday. It delighted many Hispanic groups, while prompting Republican officials to grouse more about the process he used than the actual policy.

Local residents also expressed mixed views on the subject.

Kathy Duarte, of Newhall, said it’s not the right thing for every illegal immigrant.

“If they’re busting their butt to make a life for themselves and doing good in school and all that, then kudos to them,” Duarte said.“But if they’re just here collecting from the system, then I say, ‘Send them back.’”

Democrats enjoy a hefty edge among Hispanic voters, and some GOP strategists fear Romney is widening the gap.

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