According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama administration is looking at the bases on which it might possibly choose illegal immigrants in the country who could be protected from deportation. The main criteria are reported to be the minimum duration which they have spent in the country, and existing ties with family members legally present in the U.S.
These criteria, depending on the way they are implemented, would offer protection from deportation to anywhere between 1 to 4 million illegal immigrants in the country.
President Obama has in any case been looking to improve migrant conditions in the country, with initiatives such as grant of work permits wherever feasible, but has faced some fairly stiff opposition not only from Republicans but fellow Democrats as well who feel he may be crossing the line of his authority. In any case, any such move on his part would only be temporary since he alone does not have the authority to grant perpetual legal status to illegal immigrants.
Those having lived in the country for 10 years and parents of naturalized citizens are reportedly likely to qualify, as long as some other criteria are met. Yet there are some situations on which things are rather ambiguous – for instance whether marriage to a U.S. citizen would qualify as criterion, since marriage alone is not a basis to remain in the U.S. until the illegal immigrant concerned goes back to his or her home country for a stipulated period of time. On the criterion of parents of U.S. citizens, too, there is some ambiguity as to whether parents of Dreamers – a term used to describe those who came to the U.S. illegitimately as children – would actually qualify.
This lack of clarity is likely to be resolved by December, when a firm announcement of policies on this front is made.
As expected, the Dreamer program, also referred to as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has significant traction with these young folks actively seeking that their parents not be left out when it comes to grant of legal status.
Alongside criteria for grant of legal status, criteria for deportation are also being looked at actively. For example, a traffic violation may not be a criterion for deportation, but other more serious convictions could very well be so.
Depending on how things unfold, in the face of a more positive approach to granting legal status, technology companies are likely to benefit considerably, given that they tend to staff legal immigrants in significant numbers. There is also speculation around unused visas from the past being put to use for such companies so that they can have more visas available to them. Another possibility, albeit quite slim, is that entire families might be counted as one “unit” for the visa limit.
A final consideration being looked at is that of foreign students getting the opportunity to remain in the U.S. for the interim period between graduation and grant of employment visa.
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