In an election-year policy change, the Obama administration said today it will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements:
“This grant of deferred action is not immunity,” she said. “It is not amnesty. It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system. It will help us to continue to streamline immigration enforcement and ensure that resources are not spent pursuing the removal of low-priority cases involving productive young people.”
“More important, I believe this action is the right thing to do,” she continued.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:
1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3.) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4.) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5.) Are not above the age of thirty.
Lizbeth Mateo, an undocumented 27-year-old who works with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, said she has been disappointed before by seemingly positive announcements from the administration on immigration, such as when it took up stronger application of prosecutorial discretion, with the stated intent to close a number of deportation cases. Although many cases have been closed, immigrant rights groups argue that the policy has fallen short.
Another undocumented advocate for the Dream Act, Gaby Pacheco, said she, too, is waiting to see how far the policy goes in implementation.
“We feel that the work that we have been doing for the past couple of years has really come to fruition,” she said. “A community has been able to organize and to speak out, and the president has responded.”
Obama is expected to address the announcement in remarks around 1:15 p.m. EST on Friday.
The dream is real! Our nation was built on the creed, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free; the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me.” Many say, follow a legal path. For most of these people, there is no legal path. Our laws make it impossible for them to legalize their status. You are talking about people who work very hard and are responsible. These particular individuals are here because they were bought here at a very young age.
Obama took, in one fell swoop of an executive order, the wind out of the GOP’s sails on immigration. Presumably, he just won the Latino vote. How do you think this will affect his re-election efforts?