Right-wing media have misrepresented President Obama's remarks to falsely accuse him of hypocrisy on immigration policy.
On June 15, Obama announced a change in the Department of Homeland Security's immigration policy that will allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country.
Right-wing media have since pointed to three Obama remarks to claim the president himself believes the immigration policy change is illegitimate. In fact, each of Obama's statements is consistent with the new policy.
In all of the statements the right-wing media highlighted, Obama stated that while he can't unilaterally change the law, his administration can use its prosecutorial discretion to focus on criminals rather than law-abiding immigrants, and that is just what the DHS policy change does.
Right Wing Media Misrepresent Remarks Obama Made At Univision Town Hall Meeting
Right-wing media, such as MichelleMalkin.com, The Blaze and the Daily Caller, seized on remarks made by Obama during a March 28, 2011, Univision town hall meeting. Each of these websites highlighted Obama's comment that he could not “suspend deportations through executive order.” The Blaze concluded that Obama was acknowledging that the immigration policy change “would be a rank violation of the separation of powers.”
Obama's comments during the Univision event were actually perfectly consistent with the DHS policy change. On Friday, Obama did not announce an executive order on immigration; rather DHS said it will use its discretion to allow certain young immigrants to remain in the country on a “case by case basis.”
And at the Univision event, Obama said that the administration is using and will continue to use its discretion to focus on deporting immigrants “who've engaged in criminal activity” rather than non-criminals. Obama also highlighted the fact that while deportations of criminal immigrants are up under his administration, “deportation of non-criminals are down.”
This is consistent with the DHS policy, which states that criminals are not eligible to remain in the country while certain young non-criminals will be allowed to stay.
Right-Wing Media Misrepresent Obama Comments At White House Roundtable
Yesterday, Sean Hannity misrepresented two different Obama remarks to accuse the president of hypocrisy. Hannity played a comment Obama made during a White House “Open for Questions” Roundtable with reporters from Yahoo! Español, MSN Latino and AOL Latino/Huffington Post Latino Voices. Hannity highlighted comments by Obama that he did not have the power to change laws unilaterally and that he has to enforce the laws on the book.
Hannity asserted that in those comments Obama “does not believe he could” put the DHS policy into effect. But in comments not played by Hannity, Obama specifically said his administration would use its discretion so that “we are not going to go chasing after this young man” who would qualify for legal status if the DREAM Act passed.
And what Obama said at the roundtable is precisely what the DHS policy does: It says that the administration will not use its resources to deport people who would qualify for legal status under the DREAM Act.
Right-Wing Media Misrepresent Comment Obama Made To La Raza
Hannity also highlighted a comment Obama made on July 25, 2011, to the National Council of La Raza. Obama stated, “some people want me to bypass Congress and change the laws on my own” but “that's not how our system works.”
Obama's comments to La Raza were again perfectly consistent with the DHS policy change. In the remarks, Obama alluded to his administration's use of discretion to decide who to deport, saying “we are enforcing flawed laws in the most humane and best possible ways.”
Again, Obama's comment that he will enforce the law as humanely as possible is consistent with the DHS policy. Indeed, in announcing the change, DHS said it made the change in order to ensure that the nation's immigration laws are “enforced in a firm and sensible manner” because the immigration law are not “designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.”