There's a jubilant undercurrent in Julia Preston's Tuesday report in the Times on Obama's new policy limiting deportations of illegal immigrants who have not committed a crime, 'U.S. Issues New Deportation Policy's First Reprieves.'
Preston has a reputation for sympathetic coverage of illegal immigration policy. In December 2010 she lamented a Senate vote blocking a bill granting amnesty to illegal immigrant students as a 'painful setback.'
Her tone is different today:
The call came in the morning to the lawyer representing Manuel Guerra, an illegal immigrant from Mexico living in Florida who had been caught in a tortuous and seemingly failing five-year court fight against deportation.
With the news early Thursday that federal immigration authorities had canceled his deportation, Mr. Guerra became one of the first illegal immigrants in the country to see results from a policy the Obama administration unveiled in Washington that day. It could lead to the suspension in coming months of deportation proceedings against tens of thousands of immigrants.
Administration officials and immigrant advocates said Monday that the plan offered the first real possibility since President Obama took office - promising immigrants and Latinos he would overhaul the law to bring illegal immigrants into the system - for large numbers of those immigrants to be spared from detention and deportation.
In particular, officials will look to halt deportations of longtime residents with clean police records who came here illegally when they were children, or are close family of military service members, or are parents or spouses of American citizens.
In recent years, even though he was undocumented, Mr. Guerra has been a Florida leader of the illegal immigrant student movement, helping to organize a protest walk by four students to Washington and a mock university held by students wearing mortarboards on Capitol Hill.
Indeed, Preston covered that minuscule January 2010 'march' from Miami to Washington of a grand total of four protesters, which somehow merited a 780-word article. By contrast, a massive anti-Obama rally that attracted over 100,000 people to the Capitol in September 2009 resulted in virtually the same level of print coverage in the Times: A 932-word article.
Besides Guerra, the Times quoted another Hispanic activist and Rep. Luis Gutierrez. Only in the very last paragraph did the Times fine anyone opposed to Obama's approach, Rep. Peter King:
Republican leaders reacted to Mr. Obama's new policy by stepping up their rejection of his approach. Representative Peter T. King of New York, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee in the House, said the president was making 'a blatant attempt to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal aliens in this country,' which he called 'totally unacceptable.'