With the upcoming presidential election, divisive issues have come to the forefront, and immigration is no exception. The current debate became more heated after the Obama administration announced a new policy that will benefit some young illegal immigrants. Effective immediately, children of illegal immigrants, who were brought to the United States and meet certain requirements, will not be deported and will be eligible for work permits.
These individuals must meet certain requirements, including:
? Be under 30
? Have been brought to the U.S. before the age of 16
? Have lived in the U.S. for at least five years
? Currently be in the U.S.
? Have no criminal record and not be a risk to public safety or national security
? Be in school
? Be high school graduates or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the U.S.
This new policy closely resembles the DREAM Act, legislation blocked by the Senate in 2010, but does not ensure citizenship nor permanent legal status.
Young people who meet the conditions can request “deferred action” every two years. Once their applications are approved, they can receive work permits if they can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” About 800,000 people are expected to benefit from the new plan.
By issuing an executive order ? a mandate delivered by the head of state ? President Obama bypassed Congress and aggravated some Republicans who feel that he has exceeded his authority.
The advantages of the move are not lost on President Obama?s campaign. As Latino voters will be an important voting bloc in November ? particularly in the battleground states of Florida, Colorado, Virginia and Nevada ? a significant change in immigration policy could affect turnout at the polls.
Both President Obama and Governor Romney, the presumptive Republican Presidential nominee, have expressed a desire to reform U.S. immigration strategy. Both want to secure U.S. borders and penalize employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. But while President Obama endorses a path to citizenship for undocumented individuals, Governor Romney is against any form of amnesty. He wants to build a fence across the southern border and deport any illegal immigrant no matter how many years he has lived or worked in the United States.
Up to now, Governor Romney has focused on the economy instead of immigration. This announcement could force him to address the approximately 2.1 million undocumented children in the U.S. — though he refused to answer questions about the move during an appearance on Face the Nation this weekend.
What do you think about the President’s move? Do you support it? How do you think the decision will effect the election? Do you think it will make a difference in your community? Tell us what you think in the comments.
To learn more about the new policy, click here.