How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

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.


Is poor communication within DHS leading to mistakes?

Photo by ☼zlady/Flickr (Creative Commons)

How much is poor communication between the agencies that handle immigration and border security a factor in costly mistakes that affect immigrants in the system? A lengthy report based on an investigation by Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General doesn't directly answer that question, but it does make a good case that improvements are needed.

More than a decade after the 9/11 attacks prompted a massive reorganization of the agencies that oversee the immigration system, inter-agency communication remains far from optimal at various steps along the way, from the agencies that monitor immigrants' arrival to those that enforce their exit.

The report is especially relevant given some recent erroneous deportations that have received attention, most recently that of a young Honduran-born man from Los Angeles who had been pursuing a "reasonable fear" asylum claim in hopes of avoiding deportation, fearing his gang affiliation might get him killed if he was sent back. Twenty-year-old Nelson Avila-Lopez's deportation was suspended last fall, but soon afterward, he was sent to Honduras by mistake.