Immigration plan shows that defending rights is smart politics



Carol Rose

Carol Rose, executive director of the ACLU of Massachusetts, originally wrote this guest blog for Boston.com.

It's heartening to see that President Obama is ready to offer immigrants to this country some relief--or at least to their children--by granting work permits to undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors and have since led law-abiding lives.

The timing of the announcement is politically important--just days before both President Obama and Mitt Romney are scheduled to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference in Orlando, Fla.

It's also just days before the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling on the federal government's challenge to Arizona's immigrant-profiling law--aka SB1070. Court-watchers are concerned that, if the court upholds the right to stop and ID people who "look like immigrants," it will create political upheaval in the Latino community and economic chaos for businesses that rely on immigrants to pick crops and work in factories, as has been the case in states with copycat anti-immigrant laws, such as Georgia, Alabama, and others.

Both Obama and Romney are vying for the the increasingly important Latino vote. So, it's not surprising that the plan seems similar to the one proposed by Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, whose name is frequently floated as a potential running mate to Mitt Romney.

Clearly, this plan is more partisan politics than bi-partisan collaboration. It's also important to note that the policy relies on discretion, which might still be used to deport in many cases. But, still, it's good to know that defending human rights and civil liberties can be good for politics--for all political parties.