Obama’s Brilliant Political Move: Employment Authorization – although Not Green Cards – for Qualified Undocumented Young Adults
Published: June 18, 2012
The “DREAM Act” Inspired Program In A Nutshell:
Young adults who:
A) have completed high school, their G.E.D. or were honorably discharged from the U.S. armed forces,
B) have lived in the U.S. for more than 5 years,
C) have no significant criminal records and
D) are under the age of 30…..……
will now have an opportunity to remain in the U.S. and obtain an employment authorization document, thanks to a new executive directive announced by President Obama last week. Intake procedures and processing logistics have yet to be implemented, but it appears the launch of this program will happen very soon, perhaps in a matter of weeks.
With this move, President Obama, in one fell swoop, accomplishes a number of significant achievements:
1) He demonstrates leadership and a sense of justice by moving forward with a program that allows as many as 800,000 accomplished undocumented, or out of status, students obtain a 2 year employment authorization document – a document which then establishes eligibility for a social security number and drivers license,
2) He puts his concern for immigration reform back into the spotlight, after failing to deliver on promises he made prior to taking office. Read: pleading for America’s Hispanic vote, an essential element of a reelection bid. Perhaps this will be step one toward the implementation of true, comprehensive reform and a path to legalization for the 12 million undocumented in our country.
3) He backs Mitt Romney into a corner. In my effort to avoid being cliche or predictable as an immigration lawyer, I try my hardest not to write this column from any particular political perspective, especially a liberal, anything-goes angle. Even so, it’s hard not to see the slimey ooze coming from Romney’s mouth as he awkwardly attempts to respond to this new Obama initiative by muttering a nonsensical, non-position. Does Governor Romney support such an Obama initiative? Would he continue to keep it in place if he is elected President? Umm, Umm, blah, blah, or something to that effect, is his response, or should I say, non-response. His non-response leaves the American public wondering what he really stands for, although he stated unequivocally not long ago during the last Republican debate that he would veto any DREAM act type legislation that would come across his desk as President.
Back to the basics of the new program:
• again, Department of Homeland Security/Citizenship and Immigration Services procedures for intake and processing will likely be announced in a matter of weeks,
• applicants are not on the road to Green Card, just a 2 year period of employment authorization,
• the fact an applicant is already in removal proceedings, or already even ordered removed, will not necessarily be a bar to eligibility
• brief departures out of the U.S. during the 5 year period will not necessarily disqualify the applicant,
• one or two “insignificant” misdemeanor convictions will not necessarily derail the process and
• DHS’ agents, effective immediately, are directed not to place qualifying applicants in removal proceedings
Unanswered Questions…For the Time Being:
• How long will it take be issued the Employment Authorization Document after applying? My guess – 90 days, give or take.
• What happens after the two years? My guess: At worst – another extension opportunity. At best – if the actual DREAM Act gets passed by Congress, a path to green card.
• Will the new initiative survive the court challenge promised by Obama’s Republican foes (premised on the argument that the program inappropriately intrudes on our legislative branch’s domain)? My guess: Yes. This program falls under the Executive Branch’s (The President’s) discretionary authority to prosecute or not prosecute immigration law violators, an authority exercised by Presidents, Republican and Democrat alike, for generations.
Lastly, for now, it seems the brilliance of this new program is reflected in a most important number: 64% of likely voters approve of the measure, according to a Bloomberg poll released today.
In the realm of politics and immigration, I have come to learn that surprise and change are a constant, and that one should always expect the unexpected. Important developments on this and other important immigration related policies and legislation will continue to be featured in this column. Stay tuned.
PUBLISHED June 18, 2012 – “IMMIGRATION LAW FORUM”
Copyright © 2012, By Law Offices of Richard Hanus, Chicago, Illinois