Photo by Roberto (Bear) Guerra for KPCC
Student activists stage a sit- in at President Obama's Culver City, Calif. campaign office, June 15, 2012
After a landmark announcement Friday by the Obama administration that it would not pursue deportation for some young undocumented immigrants, federal officials are now gearing up for quite a bit of work. And that's before applications for relief start pouring in.
Friday's news involved the granting of deferred action, a temporary deferment of removal, to young people who arrived in the United States before age 16 if they meet certain criteria, among them a clean record and five continuous years in the country.
It's a temporary fix, as President Obama stated, with no path to citizenship or even permanent legal status. But those who qualify will be eligible for work permits, a major boon to young people who have been raised and educated in the U.S., but have been unable to pursue many work opportunities because they can't adjust their immigration status.
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.
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."
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.
Photo by darcyandkat/Flickr (Creative Commons)
That's become one of the burning questions since yesterday's announcement by President Obama that he believes same-sex couples should have the right to marry, made a day after North Carolina legislators voted to outlaw same-sex marriage in their state.
Obama's announcement itself wasn't tied to any particular legislation, but it's been characterized as a political gamble in an election year. And some of the speculation has since moved to how such a statement from Obama will resonate in November with Latino voters, whose votes helped propel him to victory in 2008 - and who tend, at least as far as first-generation immigrants go, to be on the socially conservative side.
In the end, Obama's announcement may have less of an effect on Latino voters (and on black voters, also divided on same-sex marriage) than some might think now. The election is six months away, and recent polls suggest that Latinos are far more concerned with issues like the economy and jobs than with same-sex marriage, birth control, even immigration. Still, it's worth digging into some of the recent data.