WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children and have since led law abiding lives.
Napolitano said the change is needed to ensure enforcement resources are not expended on “low priority cases” and are instead focused on people who “meet enforcement priorities.
But the move angered Republicans, who viewed it as an overreach by the administration on a matter that should be addressed legislatively.
Today, we are announcing that effective immediately, young people brought to US by no fault of their own and meet several criteria no longer are removed from country or entered into removal proceedings,” Napolitano said in a conference call with reporters.The election year announcement was met with surprise and question by GOP lawmakers, while raised by at least one leading Capitol Hill Democrat.This is another example of executive overreach,” Florida Rep.
West said he just learned about the policy change and that such a move should have come through legislation on Capitol Hill where it could be debated.
“How can the administration justify allowing illegal immigrants to work in the US when millions of Americans are unemployed?”.
Schumer, chairman of the Immigration, Refugees and Border Security Judiciary subcommittee, said the president accomplished “in one fell swoop” what far too few Republicans were brave enough to even discuss.
It has been rejected by Congress, and yet President Obama has decided that he will move forward with it anyway.
It bypasses Congress and partially achieves the goals of the so called DREAM Act, a long sought but never enacted plan to establish a path toward citizenship for young people who came to the United States illegally but who attend college or join the military.
Obama plans next week to address the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials’ annual conference in Orlando.
Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney is scheduled to speak to the group on Thursday.
Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the US before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have been in the country for at least five continuous years, have no criminal history, graduated from a US high school or earned a GED, or served in the military.
We lag behind every other ethnic group in turnout,” said Reyes.. According to Reyes, the administration’s decision on Friday could do much to turn this trend around, particularly given young Latino voters’ high levels of interest in immigration issues.. “This is something young Latinos have been interested in for a long time,” said Reyes. “In first- and second generation Latino families, it is the younger people who often inform the rest of their families about the issues.
The officials who described the plan spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it in advance of the official announcement.
The policy will not lead toward citizenship but will remove the threat of deportation and grant the ability to work legally, leaving eligible immigrants able to remain in the US for extended periods.
“Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration’s action.
It is an exercise of discretion so that these young people are not in the removal system.
While Obama enjoys support from a majority of Hispanic voters, Latino enthusiasm for the president has been tempered by the slow economic recovery, his inability to win congressional support for a broad overhaul of immigration laws and by his administration’s aggressive deportation policy.
Activists opposing his deportation policies last week mounted a hunger strike at an Obama campaign office in Denver, and other protests were planned for this weekend.
So what many Republicans will likely do now is object to the new initiative on the basis of process, arguing that Obama’s end run around Congress represents tyranny and the like.
GOP lawmakers insist that previous uses of prosecutorial discretion in deportations amount to back door amnesty by the administration.
After 1947, domestic immigration law and policy went through major changes, most notably with the Immigration Act, 1976, and the current Immigration and Refugee Protection Act from 2002.
Romney opposes offering legal status to illegal immigrants who attend college but has said he would do so for those who serve in the armed forces.
An NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll last month found Obama leading Romney among Hispanic voters 61 percent to 27 percent.
The election year initiative addresses a top priority of an influential Latino electorate that has been vocal in its opposition to administration deportation policies.
These three components include US Citizenship and Immigration Services , US Immigration and Customs Enforcement , and US Customs and Border Protection .
A December poll by the Pew Hispanic Center showed that 59 percent of Latinos disapproved of the president’s handling of deportations.
The changes come a year after the administration announced plans to focus on deporting serious criminals, immigrants who pose threats to public safety and national security, and serious immigration law violators.
Immigration laws vary from country to country, as well as according to the political climate of the times, as sentiments may sway from the widely inclusive to the deeply exclusive of new immigrants.
One of the officials said the latest policy change is just another step in the administration’s evolving approach to immigration.
Under the plan, immigrants whose deportation cases are pending in immigration court will have to prove their eligibility for a reprieve to ICE, which will begin dealing with such cases in 60 days.
Any immigrant who already has a deportation order and those who never have been encountered by immigration authorities will deal with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
The order will stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants under 30 years old who came to the US before their 16th birthdays.
The exact details of how the program will work, including how much immigrants will have to pay to apply and what proof they will need, still are being worked out.
Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential vice presidential running mate for Romney, as an alternative to the DREAM Act.ial Rubio did not criticize the administration’s initiative Friday but said it would make it harder to achieve a permanent solution.
The administration officials stopped short of calling the change an administrative DREAM Act — the name is an acronym for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors — but the qualifications meet those laid out in a 2010 version that failed in the Senate after passing in the House.
While some Republicans question the presidents intentions in an election year, Obama has made passing the Dream Act a top priority throughout his campaign.
Illegal immigrant children won’t be eligible to apply for the deportation waiver until they turn 16, but the officials said younger children won’t be deported either.
Last year, Napolitano announced plans to review about 300,000 pending deportation cases and indefinitely suspend those that didn’t meet department priorities.
So far, Immigration and Customs Enforcement has reviewed more than 232,000 cases and decided to stop working on about 20,000.
In 2006 the United States accepted more legal immigrants as permanent residents than all other countries in the world combined.
For the people who opted to close their cases, work permits are not guaranteed.
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