The Obama administration's decision to defer deportation of undocumented immigrants who don't post a threat to public safety is really a huge deal:
Obama’s poll numbers among Latino voters began to slip. Both on the local and national level, immigration reform advocates upped the pressure, even protesting at the Obama administration’s headquarters in Chicago. While the debate over the administration’s aggressive enforcement policy largely occurred under the radar in the mainstream media, Obama was getting pilloried in the Spanish-language press for breaking his promises.
All the while, the administration was getting no credit from the right for its aggressive enforcement policies, even as deportations rose, the number of illegal immigrants dropped, and more resources were deployed at the border. Heading into 2012 with little in the way of progress to show on immigration reform, the administration likely felt that it had to do something to show that its immigration policy agenda was more than just mass deportation.
Republicans are crying "amnesty." But they were already doing that anyway. At least now, the administration is actually being responsive to the concerns of one of its key constituencies, rather than saying one thing, doing another, and having their political opponents attack them regardless. The administration is also doing this:
White House officials said the new policy could help illegal immigrants with family members in the United States. The White House is interpreting “family” to include partners of lesbian, gay and bisexual people.
Richard Socarides, a New York lawyer who was an adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay issues, said, “The new policy will end, at least for now, the deportations of gay people legally married to their same-sex American citizen partners, and it may extend to other people in same-sex partnerships.”
Again--given that the Defense of Marriage Act is still in force, the decision to treat LGBT families as families for the purposes of this policy is incredibly significant. This decision is precisely the kind of ballsy move that liberals are constantly demanding that the administration make. For once--and let's not pretend the Latino vote in 2012 isn't a part of the political calculus here--they're actually doing it.