Executive Branch

US Won't Deport Illegal Child Immigrants Now Under 30 Who Meet Criteria, May OK Work Permits

Updated: Major changes in the way the United States enforces immigration law were announced Friday by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano.

Illegal immigrants now under 30 who were brought to this country before age 16 won’t be deported and could be granted renewable 2-year work permits if they meet certain criteria, although they won’t be granted citizenship. Among the requirements are five years of continuous residency and the individual can’t have a criminal record or pose a national security threat. He or she must also be a high school graduate or have earned a general equivalency diploma or be a military veteran, according to the Associated Press and the Chicago Tribune.

The new policy, which takes effect immediately, implements provisions similar to those of the proposed Dream Act, which has stalled in Congress.

“Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” Napolitano wrote in a memorandum (PDF) describing the new policy. “Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

In a written statement, ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III applauds the new policy and says the ABA will continue to encourage Congress to paass the Dream Act.

“The announcement is consistent with American ideals of fairness and opportunity. Children should not be punished for the acts of their parents,” he writes. “For many, this great country is the only home they know. For the sake of our communities, our economy and our military, we must promote and encourage the minds of young scholars and the selfless heroism of those who have volunteered to protect us.”

The New York Times (reg. req.) also has a story.

Related coverage:

ABA Journal: “ABA Support for a Proposal to Reduce Immigration Cases Finally Pays Off”

ABAJournal.com: “US to Review 300,000 Deportation Files; Many Might Win Reprieve Under New Case-By-Case Policy”

ABAJournal.com: “Given Reprieve re Deportation Plan, Illegal Immigrant Brought to US as Child Hopes for Legal Career”

ABAJournal.com: “Former Washington Post Reporter Loses Driver’s License After Revealing His Undocumented Status”

Last updated at 4:13 p.m. to include ABA statement.

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