An estimated 800,000 young undocumented immigrants received a reprieve from the Obama administration last week. In an expansion of current policy which focuses on deporting dangerous immigrants, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano outlined the parameters under which some immigrants will be immune from deportation.
Persons brought to the United States before age 16 are eligible, as long as they are under the age of 30. These young people must have lived in the U.S. for at least five years in one block of time. They also must hold a GED or be a high school graduate, or have served honorably in the military or Coast Guard. Current students are also eligible, and participants must have no serious or multiple misdemeanor or any felony convictions.
Qualifying persons will be eligible to apply for a two-year work permit which can be renewed an unlimited number of times. They will no longer be under threat of deportation, which the administration asserts will allow resources to be diverted to enforcement against dangerous persons.
Congressional opponents have labeled the move an unwarranted amnesty for lawbreakers. Congressman Lance Smith, R-Texas suggested in his remarks that the policy violates the president’s oath, and will be a motivation for immigrants to commit fraud. He also stated that the move will hurt unemployed Americans.
The policy shift is intended to further the goals of the DREAM Act which was first introduced in 2001. One protester occupying an Obama campaign office in Dearborn, Michigan reacted cautiously to the announcement. Protesters in Dearborn and elsewhere are concerned that the review process for deportation was taking too long, and the announcement today was not seen as sufficient for the protesters to end their occupation.
Both protesters and Congressional opponents claim the move is timed to help the President in the upcoming election.
Read more at USA Today.