How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Implications of Obama's deferred action plan on the job market, higher education

As the dust settles on Friday's announcement by President Obama that he won't pursue deportation for some young undocumented immigrants, attention has turned to the short- and long-term impacts of potentially hundreds of thousands of young people getting temporary legal status and work permits, some with college degrees they haven't been able to fully take advantage of.

The plan is to allow undocumented immigrants 30 and younger who came to the U.S. before age 16 to apply for deferred action, a two-year deferment of removal. Those who qualify can apply for work authorization. It's not permanent legal status, but the implications are still staggering, even if only half those eligible join the job market. Here are a couple of good takes on how the development could affect the job market and higher education:


What do you think of Obama's 'deferred action' immigration plan?

Or as one NPR headline put it, "Is Deportation Freeze a 'Big Relief' or 'Cynical Ploy'? Those are just some of the ways in which different people have been describing the Obama administration's announcement yesterday that it would not pursue deportation for some young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors.

The move was and will continue to be a very big deal, potentially affecting at least hundreds of thousands of young people under 30. It's not "amnesty" per se, as some critics have called it, as there's no permanent legal status or path to citizenship involved.

What it does do is allow young people who have a clean record and arrived in the U.S. before age 16, among other things, to apply for "deferred action," or a temporary deferment of removal. If they meet the criteria, they will then be able to apply for a work permit if eligible.


A 'no brainer' or 'a shame'? Reactions to Obama's immigration move

As might be expected, President Obama's announcement that many qualifying young undocumented immigrants may be spared from deportation has inspired readers and listeners at KPCC to put in their two cents. Throughout station's home site and staff blogs, the comments have been pouring in from the left and right, quite literally.

Obama's plan involves allowing young people who arrived in the U.S. under age 16 and now under 30 to apply for deferred action, an administrative form of relief that would let them to stay legally in the United States, but not permanently. Those who qualify could also obtain work permits, but their cases would have to be reviewed and renewed every two years. It could affect hundreds of thousands of young people, but their long-term prospects remain uncertain.

Obama perhaps put it best himself in a speech at the White House this afternoon: "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It is not a permanent fix."


Obama: 'This is not amnesty...this is not a path to citizenship'

The Obama administration has announced that it will grant deferred action to certain young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as minors, but the long-term fate of those who qualify is still uncertain, even if it's less precarious than it has been so far.

In President Obama's speech at the White House this afternoon, he said, "This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It is not a permanent fix."

What did Obama mean by this? For starters the move, which Obama characterized in the speech as a "stop-gap" measure, is not necessarily a permanent one. Deferred action is just that, the deferment of removal action, or deportation. It is not a path to permanent legal status, let alone citizenship, nor does it  "legalize" anyone as some headlines have misstated.


Obama to grant 'deferred action,' work permits to some young undocumented immigrants

Photo by Corey Moore/KPCC

Undocumented students and their supporters protest in federal office building in Los Angeles, October 12, 2011

The Obama administration announced this morning that it is granting deferred action to undocumented young people who meet certain criteria, and will even give them work permits. Is it a big deal? Definitely. The move could affect hundreds of thousandsof young people who came to the United States as minors and have been unable to adjust their immigration status.

It's also interesting in terms of election-year political timing, with the Obama administration getting unfavorable reviews lately over its ongoing deportation case reviews, which have yielded relief for very few immigrants so far, just over 4,000 out of roughly 300,000 cases. And the fact that two Republican lawmakers have been floating proposals that could keep some undocumented college students and military hopefuls in the country has likely played a part also.