Obama Administration to Offer Immunity to Young Immigrants
The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin giving work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives. The election-year initiative addresses a top priority of a growing Latino electorate that has opposed administration deportation policies.
President Barack Obama says his plan will make the system "more fair, more efficient and more just." The president's remarks in the White House Rose Garden were interrupted by a man who asked, "Why do you favor foreigners over American workers?" The president replied, "This is the right thing to do."
The administration's decision will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. Two senior administration officials described the plan on condition of anonymity ahead of its expected announcement Friday.
The directive from Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano comes after a yearlong review, and will be applied in a case-by-case basis to young people who came to the United States before age 16, who have resided in the United States continuously for at least five years before today's date, who have not been convicted of any felony or serious crime, and who are not older than 30 years old. This deferred action is temporary and renewable.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid issued this statement today:
"I congratulate President Obama and Secretary Napolitano for this thoughtful decision that benefits not just the DREAMers and the young people seeking a future in the only country they've ever known, but our entire nation as well. These young people were brought here through no fault of their own, and many do not even remember the countries where they were born. When they pledge allegiance, it is to the United States. They belong to this country culturally and linguistically and are American in all but paperwork. These talented individuals want to defend our nation in our military, and contribute to our country through their hard work.
"President Obama's courageous decision removes the specter of deportation that hovered over these deserving individuals and frees up law enforcement resources to focus on people who are a threat to our public safety and national security. I hope Republicans, especially those who have voiced a willingness to help these young people, will support the Administration's directive.
"The President can only do so much administratively and this measure is temporary and limited by current law. The onus is now on Congress to permanently fix our broken immigration system, and I call on my Republican colleagues to help us pass the DREAM Act along with comprehensive immigration reform that is tough, fair and practical. We need to secure our borders; hold unscrupulous employers accountable; reform our nation's legal immigration system; and require the 11 million who are undocumented to register with the government, pay taxes, pay fines, learn English and then go back to the end of the line."
U.S. Senator Dean Heller (R-NV) issued the following statement regarding the announcement by Department of Homeland Security to defer action on deporting young undocumented immigrants.
"The United States is a proud nation of immigrants and there is no question we need to reform the immigration process. Our immigration system is bogged down in bureaucracy that is intimidating, confusing, and slow. Almost every day, my office helps someone who has been frustrated by the bureaucratic slog of our immigration system. However, the President has had three years to work with Congress to reform the immigration system and help undocumented children. Unilateral action by the Administration will not provide a long-term solution to this very serious issue. Democrats and Republicans need to come together to solve this problem. Temporary actions will only fuel uncertainty for these children and their families," said Senator Dean Heller.
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