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Friday, June 22, 2012

The President's Immigration Policy Change

By Jessica R. Alexander, J.D., M.L.S., Reference Librarian

In a Rose Garden speech last week, President Obama announced an immigration policy change. At the President's direction,the Department of Homeland Security is setting up a process to begin in sixty (60) days in which certain young immigrants can be assured that the possibility of deportation will be deferred.  The process is called Deferred Action Process for Young People Who are Low Enforcement Priorities.  Despite news reports to the contrary, the policy change is not styled an Executive Order, but is called a Directive. However, the Office of legal Counsel of the Department of Justice wrote an opinion which says there is no difference in substance between an Executive Order and a Directive.

The qualifications for deferral are:
  1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
  3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
  4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty.
Deferral will be decided on a case by case basis. There is a blog post at the whitehouse.gov site which provides questions and answers on the directive.

For the ability to contrast this Directive with the proposed legislation known as the Dream Act of 2011 refer to H. R. 1842, Introduced in the House of Representatives May 11, 2011 and S. 952 introduced in the Senate on the same date.  These full-text PDFs were retrieved using the FDsys system provided by the Government Printing Office.