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Obama Offers Temporary Relief for Certain Young People

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On June 15, 2012 Secretary of Homeland security Janet Napolitano announced the breaking news. In effect immediately – the certain young people who were brought to theUSunder the age of 16 and meet other criteria will be able to remain in the country (“receive deferred action”) for two years, subject to renewal, and apply for work permit. Obviously, the benefit will not be granted to any child, there are specific criteria that have to be met to be eligible for the deferred action on case by case basis:

1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen.

2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years and are
    present in the US on June 15, 2012.

3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, obtained GED
    certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of US military.

4. Have not been convicted of a felony or 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.

The list of strict conditions raises the questions as to what will happen to those who entered theUSless than 5 years ago or cannot prove that they entered before the age of 16 or who are over 30 on the date of the memo. What is more, the non-conviction requirement does not explain to us what a “significant misdemeanor” is or what kind of “multiple misdemeanors” may prevent an otherwise eligible immigrant from becoming a beneficiary of “deferred action”.

The memorandum has attracted enormous attention nationwide.  Mitt Romney, the presidential hopeful, was one of the first political leaders to give  feedback on the policy. He accused President Obama of obvious political motives in offering work authorizations to 800,000 young illegal immigrants that came to theUSas children. Further, Congress felt circumvented by the executive branch again. So on Monday, Rep. David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) proposed the legislation that would block enforcement of President Obama’s new policy,as  the Hill’s Floor Action Blog informs us.

While Schweikert’s bill would prevent DHS from enforcing executive orders on immigration, Obama’s policy change came only in the form of a memo on prosecutorial discretion from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, not an executive order.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” says Secretary Napolitano in her proud and cheerful statement. Sounds good, but there recently has not been any immigration law that would alleviate the pain of illegal immigrants. Instead of working with Congress to secure our border and finalize multiple failed attempts to reform our immigration policy, President Obama sought to bypass Congress once again. While this policy is a noticeable solution for the individuals that fit the criteria listed in the memo, the whole road to permanent residency for them and other millions of illegal immigrants remains undecided and in limbo as before.

Filed under: Immigration Issues

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