NEW YORK - In a major shift, President Obama announced this afternoon (Friday) that the nation would stop deporting most younger undocumented high school graduates. Wendy Sabrozo is a recent graduate of a New York community college, and she says she is still pinching herself because it’s hard to believe. After so many false starts, she says somebody in power is finally helping young undocumented immigrants who were brought to this country illegally, but who had no say in the matter.
“It’s a relief because we weren’t really getting far with Congress, it was just a big issue for a lot of years. So just getting to see the president taking it into his own hands, it makes me feel like what we do as immigrant youth is important to somebody.”
Details of the new policy: Undocumented immigrants younger than age 30 can apply for work permits if they have no criminal record and have graduated from high school, have a GED, or have served in the military. The change applies to those who were younger than 16 when they entered the country.
The move comes during an election year where Republican challenger Mitt Romney is on record opposing providing legal status for undocumented immigrants who attend college. Maryann Slutsky with Long Island Wins says she thinks Obama is taking a sensible middle ground.
“It’s not immunity, it’s not amnesty, it’s not a path to citizenship. What this essentially does, it allows them to come out of the shadows, and it makes it easier for ‘Dreamers’ to obtain a work permit.”
There are numerous studies showing immigrants contribute significantly to New York’s economy, and Wendy Sabrozo says Obama’s decision is likely to amplify that.
“That’s going to be 800,000 people contributing. Granted, a lot of them do it under the radar now, but to be able to do it legally, they’re going to want to help out more because we’re being helped. So, I think the country is definitely going to benefit from this.”
The U.S. Supreme Court is weighing several key immigration cases and could hand down a ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law (SB 1070) as early as next week.