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In response to the backlash, the Obama administration pledged to soften its deportation policy. Going forward, it announced, DHS will be deporting mainly “criminal illegal aliens” rather that so-called “law-abiding illegal aliens.” As critics were quick to note, this latter category was an oxymoron. Remaining in the country illegally is by definition a crime, one often compounded by felonies like identity theft, document fraud, and illegal employment. Regardless, it has not calmed the furor from the administration’s Hispanic critics. A December study by the Pew Hispanic Center found that nearly 60 percent of Hispanics disapprove of the administration’s deportation policy. Munoz’s appointment this week is unlikely to change minds in the Hispanic community, especially since she is increasingly seen as an in-house apologist for Obama’s deportation policies.
Politically, that may not matter. An election-year campaign to win over Hispanic support for Obama is largely redundant. The Pew Hispanic center recently published a report showing that while Hispanics disapprove of Obama’s deportation policies, they plan to vote for him by a sizeable majority in the election.
Nor does the president have much to fear by failing to make good on his pledge of comprehensive reform, says Stephen Steinlight, a senior policy analyst with the Center for Immigration Studies. “The Obama administration may make lip service to pushing some version of comprehensive immigration reform, but when push comes to shove it will not press nearly as hard as it promises because its strategists are in possession of the same polls we are. They show the vast majority of the American people oppose amnesty and the population explosion in legal immigration it would produce as a result of the legalized being able to avail themselves of extended family reunification.”
In that sense, Steinlight notes, Munoz’s appointment may be seen as the latest instance of the administrations’ “symbolic pandering and posturing about immigration reform — minus the reality.”
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