President Barack Obama talks during his meeting with Philippines President Benigno Aquino, Friday, June 8, 2012, in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
In a speech this afternoon in the Rose Garden, President Barack Obama explained his administration's decision to allow as many as 800,000 young illegal immigrants to apply for temporary legal status and work permits.
Neil Munro, a reporter from the Daily Caller, interrupted the president twice, asking him to defend his statement that the move is the "right thing" for the country. Obama talked over the reporter but later in the speech addressed him, again asserting that the immigration decision is the right one. Munroe again interrupted Obama. "I didn't ask for an argument," the president said sharply, ending the unusual exchange.
Obama went on with his speech. "They are Americans in their hearts, in their minds, in every single way but one--on paper," he said of the young illegal immigrants who will be affected by his plan. The sweeping proposal allows immigrants without criminal records who are under 30 years old, entered the country as children, have graduated from a U.S. high school and can prove they've lived in the country for five consecutive years to apply for temporary legal status and then two-year, renewable work permits. It does not provide them a path to citizenship. In his speech, Obama stressed that the move is "not amnesty," and he thinks Congress should still pass a broader legalization bill.
The change could have big political implications. President Obama has faced criticism from the crucial Hispanic electorate for ramping up deportations under his tenure and for failing to deliver on his campaign promise to pass comprehensive immigration reform. Advocates and advisers worried that even though Obama enjoyed a big lead over Romney among Latino voters, a lack of enthusiasm could keep many of them home in key swing states like Nevada, Colorado, and Florida on Election Day. But his announcement is likely to generate interest among many Latinos: 87 percent of registered Latino voters said in a Latino Decisions poll that they support legalizing young immigrants.
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