Steve Chapman: Obama's Immigration Order Dispels Fear


White House

If you're a foreigner in this country without authorization, you may be a hardworking, upright and taxpaying person, but you live in daily terror of making a fatal misstep. Overlooking a broken taillight, being a witness to a crime, getting hit by a car while crossing the street—minor misfortunes that attract the attention of police can bring exile, family breakup and misery.

Obama's directive isn't likely to reduce the number of people who will be removed during his remaining tenure, writes Steve Chapman. It merely defines the group from which these deportees will be chosen. The change is important for the small number of affected immigrants who otherwise would be expelled. But it's even more important for all the others who can stop worrying about that fate, at least for the time being.

Under this program, deportation would be used in a rational way against those most deserving of removal. Under the GOP alternative, the number wouldn't be much different, but being expelled would be mostly a matter of terrible luck. Obama's critics can live with that sort of random eviction. But the president is right to think the law should not function like a lottery, according to Chapman.