How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

More young people may qualify for deferred action than previously thought

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Source: Migration Policy Institute

An estimate of potential deferred action beneficiaries, by age group

Now that Homeland Security officials have issued detailed guidelines on who may may qualify for deferred action, temporary legal status that young undocumented immigrants can apply for under a new Obama administration plan, it looks like there could be more applicants in the pipeline than estimated before.

The change comes after the guidelines, released last Friday, clarified that youths lacking a high school diploma or GED would be still eligible to apply, so long as they have re-enrolled in school by the date of their application. This raises the number of potentially eligible young people, estimated at as many as 1.39 million in June by the Migration Policy Institute, to 1.76 million.

MPI now estimates that with the educational requirements as they stand, an additional 350,000 young undocumented immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as minors could eligible for deferred action if they meet other criteria.

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Survey: Majority says immigration policy is for the feds, not the states

Photo by Timothy Valentine/Flickr (Creative Commons)


As the handful of states that have enacted their own immigration laws in recent years weigh which way to go in light of a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Arizona's SB 1070, a new survey suggests one reason why more states haven't gone the way of Arizona: Many Americans don't care to.

A recent tracking survey from the Public Religion Research Institute that measured attitudes on federal-vs.-state immigration policies, same-sex marriage and other hot button political issues found that more than three-fourths (77 percent) of those surveyed believed that immigration policy should be handled at the federal level, while only 20 percent said it should be left up to the states.

Respondents were more split on a different immigration question, one that asked whether young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children should be able to obtain legal status if they go to college or join the military - in other words, the goal of the proposed Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act. More than half (55 percent) said they favored or strongly favored such a policy, while 41 percent said they opposed or strongly opposed it.

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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.

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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."

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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.

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