Wednesday, November 26, 2014

How The Immigrant Rights Movement Got Obama To Save Millions From Deportations

A battle raged among allies, publicly and behind the scenes, to shift focus from a legislative overhaul strategy to making the idea of executive action inevitable. This is how it happened.

By Adrian Carrasquillo, BuzzFeed
November 22, 2014

President Obama’s executive actions to give legal status to millions of undocumented immigrants have been framed as a president choosing to be confrontational and daring. But the real story is different: Obama was forced to do this.

The path to the executive actions didn’t start in Washington — it started at a rec center in San Francisco’s Chinatown.

The president was there, at the Betty Ong Chinese Recreation Center, named for the flight attendant who first told U.S. authorities the country was under attack on 9/11, to deliver a routine speech, pushing Republicans on immigration one last time before Thanksgiving.

As is usual, White House officials invited a range of people to the event, including a number of undocumented immigrants who received temporary legal status under Obama’s 2012 executive action, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).

Ju Hong, a Berkeley graduate and a DACA recipient, was invited to the event — then randomly selected to stand behind Obama in the typically diverse backdrop that accompanies a presidential speech.

And in that moment a nervous Hong decided to interrupt Obama and yell something off-message: The president had the power to stop the deportations for all 11.5 million undocumented immigrants.[...]

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