We've been waiting for this day for a long time. Just ask Rep. Luis Gutierrez, as I did back in July. He said: "Wait till the 15th of August when thousands, and I can tell you, thousands upon thousands upon thousands, in cities across this country, line up in auditoriums and gyms and schoolhouses and congressional offices and say, ‘I want to sign up.’"
And here we are. Today is the first day, under President Obama's deferred action initiative, that almost 2 million young undocumented immigrants can apply for temporary work permits and safety from the threat of deportation.
Across the country, just as Rep. Gutierrez foretold, families rejoiced at they rushed to file the paperwork, from Chicago, in the congressman's home state of Illinois, to Houston,to Washington, D.C.
The executive order responsible for all of this includes much of the language of the DREAM Act, but it is not the DREAM Act. It’s a huge step in the right direction, but as it stands, this order needs to be renewed every two years. And that is why a newly elected President Obama needs to readdress the DREAM Act and make it the law of the land.
Should Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan ascend to the White House, they could swiftly overturn this presidential order. And according to their articulated positions on immigration issues, they would. Both Romney and Ryan vigorously oppose the DREAM Act, which is a shame.
But here's the even larger point. With the Paul Ryan pick, the Republican Party seems to be solidifying itself as the party of the angry white male, with a huge gender gap and an enormous margin of black and Latino voters favoring the Democratic Party. Due to either their ignorance or their apathy, whichever it may be, about the changing demographics of this country, Romney and Ryan have missed an enormous opportunity to recognize the importance of a sensible, moral, and truly American, immigration policy.
At a time when the GOP needs to be courting the Latino vote more than ever, the Romney/Ryan ticket doubled down on the GOP's desire to be foolishly rigid on immigration policy. They propose to radically reformulate and limit programs such as Medicare and Medicad that are immensely popular among Latino voters.
The bottom line is that today is a day to celebrate. President Obama is doing the right thing by offering young immigrants, most often in this country through no action of their own, a chance to live and work openly, free from the fear of deportation. But the Republican Party couldn't be more wrong in its approach. Its shortsightedness on immigration policy won't just hurt it in November. It could have a long-lasting impact on generations to come. Let's hope the Republican Party evolves on this issue.