Posted by Phoenix Immigration Attorney Nick Alcock:
President Barack Obama addressed the nation at the White House today regarding a major immigration policy change expected to potentially affect 800,000 people. A politically strategic election-year move, Obama announced the U.S. will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements. The policy change comes before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its decision on the legality of Arizona’s tough 2010 immigration law known as Senate Bill 1070.
The shift on the politically volatile issue of immigration policy prompted immediate praise from Latino leaders who have criticized Congress and the White House for inaction, while Republicans reacted with outrage that the move amounts to amnesty, a negative buzz word among conservatives.
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said the new measure will also allow those meeting the requirements to apply for work permits, adding that participants must be in the United States now and be able to prove they have been living in the country continuously for at least five years.
The change is part of a department effort to target resources at illegal immigrants who pose a greater threat, such as criminals and those trying to enter the country now. Napolitano told reporters, “It is not immunity, it is not amnesty. The shift is well within the framework of existing laws and is simply the right thing to do.”
The move addresses a major concern of the Hispanic community and mimics some of the provisions of a Democratic proposal called the DREAM Act that has failed to win enough Republican support to gain congressional approval.
Napolitano emphasized the move does not provide a pathway to citizenship or permanent residency, and she called for Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which would put into law similar steps for children of illegal immigrants to continue living and working in the country.
Hispanics make up the fastest growing immigrant population in the country, and the Latino vote is considered a crucial bloc for the November presidential election.
A spokeswoman for a major Latino group, the National Council of La Raza, hailed the administration’s move.
Immigration lawyers are calling the change a major step in the right direction.
Two hotlines will be up starting Monday. Anyone seeking more information can call U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services at 1-800-375-5283 or U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours. An application process is expected to be set up within two months.
If you have any questions about the new immigration policy and would like to speak with one of our immigration attorneys today to find out how we can help, please call Alcock & Associates at 602-989-5000.
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