The Obama administration has announced that it intends to stop deporting and start granting work permits to young immigrants who have come to the U.S. illegally as children, but lived as law-abiding citizens since. The initiative is seen as a means of enacting the stalled DREAM Act, which has been unable to make it through the Republican-controlled Congress.
The DREAM Act was designed to establish a path to citizenship for young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and have attended college or served in the military. According to the Associated Press, “Under the administration plan, illegal immigrants will be immune from deportation if they were brought to the United States 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 U.S. high school or earned a GED, or served in the military. They also can apply for a work permit that will be good for two years with no limits on how many times it can be renewed.”
While the measures will not make current undocumented immigrants into citizens, it removes the threat of deportation and grants them the ability to work here legally, enabling them to stay for long periods of time. It is unclear, however, what happens to the young people after they turn 30, a concern raised by Huffington Post reporter Amanda Terkel, who tweeted, “So, DREAMers younger than 30 can apply for 2-yr work permit and keep renewing. What happens when they hit 30? Deported?
Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano wrote of the new policy, “Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways. Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
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