Hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants brought here as children will be able to get a short-term reprieve from deportation proceedings under an Obama administration policy taking effect next week.
Implementing a policy announced in June, Citizenship and Immigration Services will start taking applications Aug. 15 from young adults for temporary work permits aimed at addressing the issue of illegal immigrants who were brought here by their parents as children, earned school diplomas and obtained jobs as adults but could still be deported to their parents homeland. President Obamas executive order removes the threat of deportation for up to two years.
To qualify for a work permit, applicants must meet several conditions. They must have been brought here before they were 16 years old, be in school or have a high school diploma or be honorably discharged from the military. They must also be 30 years old or younger and have lived in the United States at least five years.
They are disqualified if they pose a threat to national security or have been convicted of a felony, three or more misdemeanors or even one significant misdemeanor that includes a range of offenses such as domestic violence, burglary, or driving while intoxicated. Applicants have to undergo background checks, so it could be months before they know whether they will be granted a two-year work permit. A second two-year waiver could be obtained.
Critics have objected that the policy is an end run around immigration laws in what amounts to an amnesty for illegal immigrants, but it is far from a blanket amnesty.
The policy conditions are similar to the Dream Act that would grant legal residency to illegal immigrants but has failed to get through Congress. President Obamas order is a temporary solution available to between 800,000 and 1.4 million illegal immigrants. The program does not grant residency nor put successful applicants on a path to citizenship, but it entitles them to other privileges such as getting a job or obtaining a drivers license. It grants them some stability until the country can implement more permanent immigration reform.