Barring some unexpected windfall, there is positively no chance that the Obama administration will be able to show progress on the economy in time for the election. As a result, industrial states that Obama took handily in the 2008 election such as Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania could well end up in the Republican column. As a result, the Obama reelection campaign must count on winning states that went Republican in the last elections.
The Obama team looks to the Southwest. In the 2010 midterm elections, the Democrats won the Senate elections in Nevada and Colorado thanks to the turnout of new Latino voters who voted heavily in favor of the Democrats. Hispanic American voters are therefore viewed as a key and perhaps decisive prize in the 2012 elections.
Obama was encountering diminishing enthusiasm among Hispanic Americans because he had failed to deliver the goods on immigration reform since the issue was stymied by the debate in Congress. Republicans have blocked the bill because they felt that amnesty for illegal immigrants who have already arrived would encourage another wave of illegals and also because they claimed that the first priority is to seal the American border against illegal immigrants. Once border security is achieved, then reform could be put on the agenda.
Now the Obama Administration is bypassing Congress by issuing orders to the bureaucracy not to bother with immigrants who do not pose a threat security and crime wise. Enforcement proceedings will concentrate on criminals, gang members, people who returned to the United States following deportation and recent arrivals.
Proceedings against others may be reopened, but in the interim they will be allowed to file for a work permit.
The decision will affect 300,000 people at this stage but it is going to be looked at as a long term change by supporters and opponents of the measure. The longer an immigrant remains in the United States, building ties and work relations while his children attend schools, his immunity against deportation is enhanced.
Israel is facing the same problem with foreign workers who overstay their visas and illegal infiltrators from Africa causing controversy between those who feel sorry for them and those who see the longterm and current negative outcomes of allowing tens of thousands of illegals to stay.
Times of economic recession generally increase hostility to immigration, both legal and illegal. Fairly or not, immigrants are blamed for taking jobs away or being willing to work for lower wages and under worse conditions.
It is therefore not certain how this will turn out electorally. Obama's advisers probably assume that they have lost immigration opponents in any case and therefore are attempting to appeal to Hispanic voters.