Archived: New Immigration Policy Is Sure to Come With Some Hurdles


Under President Obama’s new policy giving young undocumented immigrants a two-year breather from deportation, undocumented youth will face a new challenge—proving they have sufficient documentation to show they qualify for the new, albeit temporary, status.

While the president last week outlined the general guidelines under which an undocumented immigrant — brought to the country through no fault of their own before the age 16, and who is now 30 years old or younger — can qualify for a two-year permit to be and work in the country legally, the details as to how the process will actually work will not be announced for another 60 days, according to officials at the Department of Homeland Security.

The regulations and the application process are sure to include a number of leaps and hurdles to overcome. And as is usually the case, they are also likely to include a number of grey areas and exceptions, which will serve to disqualify some deserving and talented young people.

The process will probably be easier for some than others. With schools out of session, getting paperwork could prove challenging. Government bureaucrats, and that includes school employees, are not known for their ability to act quickly, or accurately, for that matter.

For once, those with packrat tendencies will probably be rewarded, since they will find it easier to prove their presence in the U.S. than those who live in more sterile conditions.

Speaking at a press conference, Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano said those eligible to avoid deportation under the new residency status, will also be able to apply for a work permit. That’s a good idea, and will likely increase tax revenue.

As we look ahead, we see problems arising for those who have been convicted of a felony or a significant misdemeanor, and perhaps rightly so. We expect that those with clean backgrounds probably won’t have any problems, but activists will probably wind up fighting to include some with police records in the first group to be granted the new permits.

We urge immigration officials to exercise their prosecutorial discretion in a way that really examines whether a youthful mistake should be punished for a lifetime. We also urge immigration activists to not just turn a blind eye on all past criminal activity, and to recognize that there are some who by their criminally bad behavior have forfeited their right to be in this country.

Even though the final regulations have yet to be published, immigrant rights groups are already planning workshops to inform potential candidates about what will be required of them, and how to apply. But there are others out there whose intentions are not so honorable, and we urge potential applicants to use caution when seeking help, and to not fall victim to the unscrupulous scammers standing ready to exploit their situation with false promises and high fees.

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