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Mon, Feb. 17

Editorial: Illegal immigrant policy oversteps boundaries

A proposal to deport illegal immigrants with criminal records but allow potential "DREAM Act" beneficiaries - and possibly their families - to stay in the United States came out of the White House on Thursday.

CNN reported that, in making the announcement, former Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who is now secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, said 300,000 cases pending in federal immigration courts would undergo review one by one. This means that low-priority cases stand to be thrown out, with attention zeroing in on sending illegal criminals packing.

White House officials said less-pressing cases would include illegal immigrants who have lived in the country for a long time with families, and undocumented students who came to this country when they were young. The DREAM Act, an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minorities, is a legislative proposal that's been bandied about since the early 2000s, without making it into law - just one more example of Washington's failed attempts to reform U.S. immigration laws.

Meanwhile, Arizona and its neighboring border states must continue to contend with an impasse over undocumented immigrants and the economic burdens they create.

Arizona is richer for its Hispanic heritage. Despite our differences with Mexico's government, we appreciate that country's people. We hold in high regard the Hispanic people who lead productive lives in our communities. Many of our leaders in all walks of life in Arizona are of Hispanic origin.

These are not the people we want to put in the spotlight, with any hint of racism directed at them.

Rather, our concerns center on people of any ethnicity who are in the country without becoming citizens or making any effort to legalize their status as Americans.

Thursday's announcement of this new policy is bound to add more fuel to a smoldering fire.

President Obama and his family are vacationing at Martha's Vineyard. Congress won't return to work until after the Labor Day holiday. While nobody begrudges vacation breaks, the timing of the proposal goes against the grain.

Some critics believe it makes the DREAM Act "de facto" law and gets amnesty through the back door. And they may be right.

Immigration reform must originate in Congress, not in a policy created by the executive branch of our government.

What touches the olfactory sense in this new approach to dealing with illegal immigrants is the smell of election season 2012 and patronizing a certain block of voters - the Hispanic population.

That's just plain wrong and a disservice to this country.

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