Sunday, July 27, 2014
President Obama appears poised to take executive action that would legalize as many as 5 million illegal immigrant parents of U.S.-born children, a prospect that riles local immigration critics and adds a new dimension to concern about swelling immigrant populations in states like Massachusetts eyed as hosting sites for thousands of children who crossed the border unaccompanied.
The Associated Press reported yesterday White House officials are laying the groundwork for an executive order that would automatically legalize roughly 5 million of an estimated 11 million people who have entered the country without legal authorization or overstayed their visas.
One option would allow immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens to apply for temporary legal status, which would let them work here legally. Another option would grant temporary legal status to parents of young people who have been granted deportation deferrals by the Obama administration.
Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, a longtime critic of U.S. immigration policy, said the proposed orders encourage parents to cross the border and have a child, which he said is an ongoing problem.
“They snuck in, they had a child, and now because they did that the president’s saying, ‘OK, we’re going to let you stay’?” Hodgson said yesterday. “The tail’s wagging the dog here. There’s no consequence for coming in here illegally.”
The news comes as local officials continue to press for details on the ever-evolving plans to potentially host immigrant children at Westover Air Reserve Base in Chicopee and Camp Edwards in Bourne. Bourne selectmen chair Peter Meier said town officials want a seat at the table if the state negotiates a memorandum spelling out what the feds will pay for emergency services and school costs if children enroll locally.
“We need to get everybody in the room and say, ‘OK, what’s it going to take so we can make this palatable to the most amount of people?’” Meier said.
Gov. Deval Patrick earlier this month proposed housing the children for up to four months in an effort to aid in the “humanitarian crisis” of more than 57,000 unaccompanied Central American kids flocking to the U.S. border.