“They’re pushing the [immigration] agents to be even more lax, to go further in not enforcing the law,” said Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state. “At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and looking for work, this is more bad news coming from the Obama administration… [if the administration] really cared about putting Americans back to work, it would be vigorously enforcing the law,” said Kobach, who has helped legislators in several states draft local immigration-related laws.
“We think it is an excellent step,” said Laura Vasquez, at the Hispanic-advocacy group, La Raza, which pushed for the policies, and which is working with other groups to register Hispanics to vote in 2012. “What’s very important is how the prosecutorial discretion memo is implemented” on the streets, she said.
The Hispanic vote could be crucial in the 2012 election, because the Obama campaign hopes to offset its declining poll ratings by registering new Hispanic voters in crucial swing states, such as Virginia and North Carolina.
To boost the Hispanic vote, the administration has enlisted support from Hispanic media figures, appointed an experienced Hispanic political operative to run the political side of the Obama reelection campaign, and has maintained close ties to Hispanic advocacy groups, including La Raza. For example, La Raza’s former senior vice president and lobbyist, Cecilia Munoz, was hired by the Obama administration as director of intergovernmental affairs in 2009.
On Friday, officials at ICE announced several new administrative changes to immigration enforcement.
The primary document was the six-page “prosecutorial discretion” memo, which provided new reasons for officials to not deport illegal immigrants.