On June 15th, President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would stop deportation of some young immigrants and allow them temporary legal status.

Incumbent Congressman Rob Woodall’s subsequent comments (in the June 16th Atlanta Journal Constitution) about the President’s announcement were simply wrong.  President Obama did not show “contempt for America’s laws” as claimed by Woodall, but instead acted responsibly and humanely in allowing some young immigrants brought here years ago as children to avoid deportation.

This same policy is embodied in the “Dream Act,” a bill that originally had bi-partisan support in Congress when it was first introduced.  The “Dream Act” does not provide amnesty for all illegal immigrants.  The “Dream Act” would give legal status to some young immigrants who complete high school, attend college or serve in the military.  These young people have been in the United States since they were children and have been educated in our public schools.  Many of these young immigrants would otherwise be subject to deportation to their countries of origin even after they have lived most of their lives here.

Rob Woodall claims the President “is undermining … the U. S. Constitution at the expense of (our) economy and (our) trust.”  In reality, Mr. Woodall and his Republican colleagues are refusing to govern responsibly by blocking passage of the Dream Act, a bill previously championed by numerous Republican senators including Orrin Hatch of Utah.  Even Georgia’s own U. S. Senators, Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss, previously supported this type of immigration reform when Georgia W. Bush was the president.

The President’s decision is neither unlawful nor unconstitutional.  It does not grant citizenship nor permanent legal status.  It gives a limited number of young people a limited reprieve from deportation and allows them to work.  The decision is within the federal government’s authority to decide how to enforce our immigration laws, as the U. S. Supreme Court recently ruled in Arizona v. United States.  Most of all, it is humane and just.

Ultimately, we need comprehensive immigration reform from Washington.  Such reform will require continued deportation of some illegal immigrants and a robust enforcement of our southern border.  It will also need to include a path to citizenship for some immigrants who have been in our country for an extended period of time who have been employed, and have otherwise been law-abiding residents.  Such a path to citizenship should include some payment by immigrants of back taxes and a requirement that they learn the English language.