Undocumented 6-Year-Old Arrested: Where Is the Dream in That Act?

Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio is President Obama’s immigration nightmare.

Sheriff Joe Arpaio: ‘They will be arrested.’ (Photo: Joshua Lott/Reuters)

Jun 18, 2012
Allan MacDonell is TakePart’s News + Opinion editor, with a focus on social justice.

President Obama announced this past Friday that he was granting a limited window of opportunity for some undocumented immigrants to obtain work permits and take a step toward increasing their productivity as American residents.

The window of opportunity would open for two years, but only for those undocumented U.S. residents who would be eligible to pursue citizenship under the federal DREAM act, were that package of immigration reform ever to be enacted.

On the same day that Obama trumpeted his reprieve for a DREAM,  Maricopa County deputies arrested a 6-year-old girl as a “suspected illegal immigrant.”

Feel safe to assume that Obama granted the election year reprieve expecting ripple effects out beyond his basic voter base. After all, immigration is among the more politicized issues in the current U.S. yellersphere.

However, the president probably did not anticipate the swift reactionary zeal of Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio. On the same day that Obama trumpeted his reprieve for a DREAM, deputies from Arizona’s Maricopa County Sheriff Office arrested a 6-year-old girl as a “suspected illegal immigrant.”

The president’s shift on immigration deportation policies, which came after the National Immigrant Youth Alliance staged sit-ins at Obama’s Denver campaign offices, is crafted to highlight the traditional American work ethic.

To be eligible for the deportation reprieve, immigrants will need to, in the words of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitanto, “meet certain criteria.

Those certain criteria are:

  • Individuals need to be at least 16 years old and no older than 30
  • They must have been brought into the U.S. before age 16
  • They need to have resided in the country for at least five continuous years
  • They need to be currently in school, graduated from high school, gotten a G.ED. or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. military
  • Individuals who have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanors are ineligible
  • Persons who pose a threat to national security are ineligible

“It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans,” Obama said, but these apparently reasonable caveats do not allay the fears of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

“I suspect that this is politics to get the Hispanic vote,” Arpaio told reporters after his department had arrested a 6-year-old girl. “It’s sad to use the kids as a political tool to get a certain segment of our society’s vote.”

Speaking through Fox News, Arpaio vocalized his disagreements with Obama policy to listeners south of the border: “I think people from Mexico are now going to feel, ‘Hey come on in, and we’ll get by with it.’ But it won't happen in this county. They will still be arrested.”

Many activists campaigning for the DREAM act are just as leery of the president’s two-year window as Arpaio is.

The DREAM youth are fully cognizant that the Obama administration has ratcheted up deportation rates, sending nearly 400,000 people out of the country in each of the president’s first three years in office.

Given the president’s deportation statistics, are Obama and Sheriff Joe really on opposite sides of the immigration debate? Leave your provocative thoughts in COMMENTS.

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