Durbin Celebrates Obama's Deporation Policy Shift

"This is a historic humanitarian moment in American history," Illinois senator says

By Lindsay Smith
|  Friday, Jun 15, 2012  |  Updated 10:54 PM CDT
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The extension of temporary legal status to DREAM Act students has been years in the making. Natalie Martinez reports.

The extension of temporary legal status to DREAM Act students has been years in the making. Natalie Martinez reports.

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Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin has hoped for years to provide a pathway to citizenship for immigrant youths who go to college or serve in the military through his brainchild "Dream Act."

You can imagine, then, how pleased he is with Obama's decision Friday to stop deporting some of the children of illegal immigrants.

"This is a historic humanitarian moment in American history. It is an opportunity for us to demonstrate to the world the values and caring of a great nation," Durbin said during a press conference Friday. "And equally it important, it gives to these young people, these young men and woman, a chance to be part of our future."

During Durbin's address to the press he skimmed through his time spent creating the Dream Act and how he worked with Obama on it before Obama became president. He then said how excited he was for the youth of illegal immigrants that are proving why they should be able to stay in America.

One such former youth, Alaa Mukkahal, now 26, said a few words herself.

"My name is Alaa Mukkahal. I'm undocumented and unafraid," Mukkahal said after thanking the Senator for his support for youth like her.

Mukkahal was brought to America from Palestine by her parents when she was seven where she has lived for 19 years. Mukkahal earned a bachelor's degree in architecture from University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, but found soon after graduation that she'd never be able to put her degree to use.

In a letter she sent to Durbin, she wrote "I am an asset to this country - a resource - with a desire to make good use of my degree."

During her short speech on Friday she called Obama's decision "a reason to celebrate," and a reason "to give the youth hope about not worrying about being deported, and the possibility of deportation hanging over our heads."

Under Obama's new policy, illegal immigrants can now apply for work permits if they are under the age of 30 and moved to the United States before the age of 16. They will first have to meet a number of requirements, including having no history of crime, according to the Obama administration. The policy is a temporary measure.

Obama drew ire from many people for going around congress and making the policy an executive decision, but he also drew praise from a couple of surprising sources for handling immigration in a more humane way.

Republican Sen. Marco Rubio spoke out in hesitant favor of the reform, saying, “There is broad support for the idea that we should figure out a way to help kids who are undocumented through no fault of their own, but there is also broad consensus that it should be done in a way that does not encourage illegal immigration in the future,” reports Politico.

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