For many San Diego residents, the fear of being deported once they enter this country as an immigrant is enough to turn many people away from attempting to gain legal citizenship. Now, with a new policy, young immigrants brought to this country as children will be allowed to legally seek work permits and also apply for temporary protection from being deported. Hopefully this new policy will help encourage young people in fear of deportation and removal proceedings to continue to work toward their dream of U.S. citizenship.
Qualified people must be no older than 30, not have a serious criminal record, have lived in this country for at least the past five years, and be currently enrolled in school, possess a GED or have graduated. The new policy potentially stands to help some 1.39 million immigrants, many of whom likely live in the San Diego area and throughout California. These numbers equate to about 12 percent of undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
The Obama administration has been under fire from Latino advocacy groups over the record number of deportation and removal proceedings in his presidency. The administration has also been under the spotlight for slow work in reviewing pending deportation cases to determine if deferrals should be granted in accordance with earlier announced policies. With hundreds of thousands of deportation cases pending, it is said that 2 percent have been reviewed to date. With the new policy, the administration hopes to spare low-priority immigration cases while targeting immigrants who are "dangerous criminals" and also those who have repeated immigration offenses.
The government could take up to two months to have a formal procedure to apply in place. Accordingly, the administration is asking for immigrants to wait for the instructions before attempting to apply for the program. As the presidential election season approaches, immigration stands to play a central part in the political debate. While it remains to be seen if this new policy will become a reality for the people it is intended to help, the prospect of legally working in the U.S. without the constant fear of deportation and removal proceedings will likely be a welcome relief for many young people in our state and throughout the country.
Source: Houston Chronicle, "Obama administration to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants," Susan Carroll, June 18, 2012