On Friday last week, President Obama held a press conference that stunned many on both sides of the aisle. The President laid out a new policy that would eliminate the threat of deportation for a number of illegal immigrants living and working in the US that were brought to the US as children.
The directive from Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano lays out specific conditions for these individuals to qualify for the “Deferred Action Process”. The directive specifically states that this falls short of amnesty. The directive says that the use of prosecutorial discretion conveys no substantive right, immigration status or path to citizenship. Only Congress has that authority. The directive also says that it fits with the current priority to prosecute the illegal immigrants who pose a significant threat to the citizens of the US first.
To qualify, an individual must meet the criteria laid out below.
- Come to the US under the age of sixteen.
- Have resided in the US continuously for at least five years and be present in the US on June 15, 2012.
- Currently be in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED, or be honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the US.
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, multiple misdemeanors, or be a threat to national security or public safety
- Not be above the age of 30
The question remains how effective this new policy will be. Those that apply for the new policy will, in effect, be telling the administration that they are here instead of staying in the shadows. The policy allows for no prosecution and the issuance of a work permit. They will then be betting that they will never be sent back to their home country but over the weekend, when pressed on the issue, Gov. Romney refused to answer whether he would keep the policy in place if he was elected.
It is possible (though not likely) that those that opt in to this program will be put at the back of the line for citizenship, barred from entry in the future and possibly rounded up if the policy is reversed by this or other administration. The policy does not address, travel between the US and their home countries, passports, visas etc…. just a deferment from prosecution in the near future.
All of the cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. While the impact on agriculture is not certain due to the low numbers of individuals that fit this category but it does provide a terrific opportunity for a number of people to move out of the shadows and and out of the fear of deportation. For more information, go to www.dhs.gov.