In a measure that a Pew Hispanic Center analysis said could benefit up to 1.4 million children and young adults, the Obama administration said it will offer work permits to illegal immigrants younger than age 30 who came to the United States before age 16 and meet certain criteria.
Participants must be in the United States now and be able to prove they have been living in the country continuously for at least five years.
The centerpiece of the Obama measure grants illegal immigrants a two-year deferral from deportation if they pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military, administration officials said.
The change is part of a Department of Homeland Security effort to target resources at illegal immigrants who pose a greater threat, such as criminals and those trying to enter the country now, officials said.
For many educators and school leaders across the nation, the new program means undocumented immigrant students can come out of the shadows and underground economy of society and participate legally in the U.S. work force, Rangel said.
Equally important, teachers and principals now have an answer to illegal immigrant students who have asked “what’s the point?” about pursuing a higher education, Rangel said.
“At some point these kids ask themselves the question: they work hard, they get the good grades, but what’s the point of going to a university if they can’t work?” said Rangel, chief executive officer of the United Neighborhood Organization, which operates 11 charter schools in Chicago serving 5,500 students. He’s also president of the UNO Charter School Network.
How do you feel about Obama’s new declaration? Do these folks deserve a chance at the way of life we enjoy here in America?
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