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Some see Obama illegal-immigration review as amnesty

August 19, 2011 |  8:59 am

Secure Communities

While some immigration rights advocates cheered, others are more skeptical about the Obama administration's plan to review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants currently in deportation proceedings to identify "low-priority" offenders.

Officials said that by launching the case-by-case review, officials said they are refocusing deportation efforts on convicted felons and other "public safety threats." Those who have not committed crimes could be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Critics labeled the plan a "blanket amnesty" for a large group of illegal immigrants.

This "clearly demonstrates the Obama administration's defiance of both the constitutional separation of powers and the will of the American public," said Dan Stein, president of the Federation for American Immigration Reform.

Some immigrant rights advocates were skeptical about Obama's plan. "We've heard elegant statements of priorities before," said Chris Newman of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network. "I don't know what today has changed."

But the administration's action was cheered by some illegal immigrants, notably college students who have been pushing Congress to pass the Dream Act, which would allow them to stay in the country.

"It makes me happy and hopeful," said Rigoberto Barboza, 21, an undocumented student at Mt. San Antonio College who supports a family of five with a $9-an-hour job at a fast-food restaurant. He said his mother, who brought him to the U.S. from Mexico when he was a boy, is facing deportation. "I hope they go through my mother's case, stop her deportation and, if possible, get her a work permit."


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--Christopher Goffard, Paloma Esquivel and Teresa Watanabe

Photo: Demonstrators at a Los Angeles news conference last week show their support for speakers who denounced "Secure Communities." The program, which uses fingerprints gathered by local and state police to aid federal authorities in identifying criminals to be deported, has sparked protests across the country in recent days. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)