Immigration Action Provides Millions Relief from Deportation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Thomas A. Saenz, President and General Counsel, MALDEF, released the following statement today after President Obama announced his plan for executive action on immigration.

"MALDEF heartily welcomes the President's announcement of affirmative relief for some of the millions of immigrants who have come to our country at great risk to put roots down and to contribute to family and community through hard work and commitment to the principles that have built our nation. In making this announcement, President Obama acts in a tradition of executive leadership extending back decades in the context of immigration regulation and centuries in the inherently related context of international relations. It is appropriate and necessary that the President exercise his undoubted constitutional and statutory authority to implement affirmative immigration relief. Appropriate because of the fair expectation - fostered by historical tradition and popular demand -- of presidential leadership on issues of such great national import, and necessary because of the dire urgency of now. We simply must pursue immigration policies that better serve our national interests and better reflect our country's core principles."

"The President's action builds upon the previous - and markedly successful - affirmative relief program of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). It is our hope and belief that the current announcement is not the conclusion of federal action in support of the courageous population of immigrants continually building and rebuilding our nation. Congress simply must act to reform our immigration system -- to embed shared and celebrated principles of anti-discrimination, family values, entrepreneurial initiative, and community commitment. However, should our nation continue to be saddled with a do-nothing Congress - or worse, afflicted by a Know-Nothing Congress - we can and should expect further administrative action to protect millions of equally valued immigrants from the daily risk of uprooting and detention. We cannot and should not wait forever. In a related context, Dr. King warned us not 'to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism.' If the Congress cannot act with alacrity, we must again turn to the Executive for leadership."

"In the ever critical meantime, we all must work together to ensure the success and fairness of the announced program of affirmative relief and strive to implement enforcement practices and integration efforts that pursue our abiding national interests in equality and due process."

Founded in 1968, MALDEF is the nation's leading Latino legal civil rights organization. Often described as the "Latino Legal Voice for Civil Rights in America" MALDEF promotes social change through advocacy, communications, community education, and litigation in the areas of education, employment, immigrant rights, and political access. For more information on MALDEF, please visit:

Copyright 2009 MALDEF — Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund