Ehrlich: President Obama's immigration announcement politically motivated

Children of illegal immigrants allowed to stay

Maryland's former governor says he's offended by President Barack Obama's announcement, that the federal government will no longer deport the children of illegal immigrants.

"They are Americans in their hearts, their minds, in every style but one-- on paper," the president said on Friday.

The policy change targets an estimated 800,000 children of illegal immigrants.  In many cases they were brought to the United States by their parents as infants or young children.  The president now says the government will not deport illegal immigrants if they can prove they were brought here before they turned 16, are younger than 30 and have been in the country for at least five continuous years.

"There are young people who study in our schools, who play in our neighborhoods, friends with our kids, who pledge allegiance to our flag," he said.

"I guess there are other laws I'd like to be selectively enforced to," Ehrlich told ABC-2 News.

He believes it's no coincidence the announcement comes just over four months before the presidential election.  "(The president) obviously hopes to get a Hispanic base out, in particular states, so clearly a lot of folks will come to the logical conclusion that this is politically motivated," Ehrlich, a Republican, said.

The former governor said he supports immigration reform that would seal the US border, and then give illegal immigrants a path to a green card -- with a time limit attached to it.

If they can't meet the limit or if they've committed a crime, they would be deported.  Simply granting status to those already here, Ehrlich says -- lets them off too easily.

"What type of signal is the government sending me, that we will recognize a particular law but tend to ignore another law, we're either a nation of laws or we're not that's my problem here," he said.

Ehrlich said he's speaking for himself and not for the campaign of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

It's a debate that resonates in Maryland -- last year legislators passed the so-called "Dream Act" which would grant in-state tuition to some children of illegal immigrants.

In November voters will decide whether to overturn it in a statewide referendum.  Ehrlich says he believes the Dream Act will be overturned.

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