They finally got a win. After two years of the kind of relentless agitating that can only come from teenagers, the Obama administration has stated definitively that it will not deport young undocumented foreigners who live in the United States exactly as citizens do.
The country's immigration laws are clear — you cannot be here without papers. But Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano says the enforcement of those laws needs to be "sensible." The laws are not intended "to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
It is precisely that enforcement discretion, and the administration's apparent unwillingness to push it to its limits, which has caused so much frustration among immigration advocates. Ever since President Obama took office, advocates have insisted that DHS has the flexibility to prioritize who it dings and who it doesn't, particularly in a budget-squeezing era when it isn't possible to round up and deport the 12 million illegal immigrants residing in the United States.
Under Obama, DHS has set its priorities to focus on crime, issuing guidelines to immigration agents that say they should go after criminals and not pregnant mothers, on people who facilitate the transport of illegal immigrants and not the elderly or children who accompany them. Napolitano has expressed genuine regret that undocumented youth that the agency happens upon must be placed into deportation proceedings, even if that means heart-wrenching family separations or missed graduations.