Let them stay: A conservative supports Obama on allowing immigrants stay if they were brought here as children
Share with others:
Was President Barack Obama's announcement that he will block deportations of hundreds of thousands of young illegal immigrants an abuse of power that will only encourage further lawbreaking? Many apoplectic Republicans and conservatives have argued as much.
But not Mark Shurtleff, Utah's conservative attorney general. He dismissed those objections in an interview Friday, arguing the move was good law enforcement policy and even "conservative."
"This is clearly within the president's power," Mr. Shurtleff told me. "I was pleased when the president announced it."
Mr. Shurtleff, a Mitt Romney supporter and die-hard conservative on most issues, has staked out an alternative to the GOP's hard line on immigration. He noted that the administration has discretion to decide whom to prosecute.
"Law enforcement makes decisions based on the resources available to them -- until Congress acts, we'll be left with too many people to deport," Mr. Shurtleff said. "The administration is saying, 'Here's a group we could be spending our resources going after, but why? They're Americans, they see themselves as Americans, they love this country.' "
By allowing kids brought here illegally to attend school and work, Mr. Shurtleff added, the president's approach could encourage them to stay out of gangs, which he called a "conservative" goal. He dismissed the claim that this would encourage illegal immigration, noting that the plan applies only to those who came to this country before age 16, who are younger than 30 and who have been in the country for at least five continuous years.
"You're not giving [legal status] to the parents who came here," Mr. Shurtleff said. "You're giving it to the child who was brought here. That child didn't get to choose."
First Published June 19, 2012 12:00 am