Obama's exec order good for young illegal immigrants, good politics




Posted on June 15, 2012 at 7:25 PM

DALLAS - While President Obama said Friday his executive order is the right thing to do for young illegal immigrants to give them a chance to earn work permits and stay in the U.S. legally, it's also the right political move for him to shore up Latino support, five months away from the election.

Politically, the president's order should bolster his support among Hispanic voters in battleground states, like Colorado and Nevada, where he's got a good chance to win in November, but not so much in red-state Texas.

But in Texas, any more Latinos enthusiastically turning out to vote can only help Democrats.

For those illegal immigrant teens and young adults pursuing an education with hope of a job, supporters like immigration advocate Ralph Isenberg of Dallas, applaud the president's order.

"Now it's time for them to cash in," Isenberg said. "It's time for them to get rewarded and give back to a society that's helped them to get to where they're at."

But Republicans are furious with the decision.

Senate candidates Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst and Ted Cruz both call the executive order "backdoor amnesty."

And North Texas Congressman Michael Burgess said the president dismissed the will of the congress.

"I think this is a bad idea to do this by executive order, and not just because I'm a member of the legislative branch," Burgess said. "But we do have three branches of government for a very good reason."

But the president has good reason politically -- he needs Latino votes in swing states.

And Democrats need them in Texas, where just less than 25 percent of registered Hispanics voted in 2010, and 2.7 million who qualify aren't registered.

Latino leaders, like Rene Martinez of Dallas LULAC, say anything to spark support helps.

"I think this is just going to be an added incentive for people to say the President really understands the needs and the priorities of our community and also our young people," she said.

The president visits Texas mostly to raise money. He's kept an organization here since 2008 sowing the seeds that the growing Hispanic population will bloom one day into a Democratic force.

E-mail bwatson@wfaa.com