obama to halt deportation of young undocumented immigrants

HUGE news. The White House will halt the deportation of as many as 800,000 young undocumented immigrants and in some cases give them work permits, in a sweeping new initiative announced today by the Department of Homeland Security: White House to halt deportation of young illegal immigrants.

Effective immediately, young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

From the Department of Homeland Security's press release:
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner," said Secretary Napolitano. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."

DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. Today's action further enhances the Department's ability to focus on these priority removals.

Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:

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

2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, 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.
Read the full DHS press release here. This is a momentous policy change. But this is not a permanent fix. There's still a great deal of work to be done -- there's a lot of ways this can go wrong -- but this is a good start, and it is indeed the right thing to do. More here: Obama Administration To Stop Deporting Younger Undocumented Immigrants And Grant Work Permits.

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