Many once-illegal immigrants are now granted a chance to live in the United States free from the fear of being deported.
As of Aug. 15, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services has begun accepting requests for deferred action for illegal immigrants that may have arrived during their childhood.
The USCIS will review requests and make decisions on a case-by-case basis, according to a press release issued by the USCIS.
The USCIS stressed that the deferred process will not necessarily provide lawful status or provide a path to permanent residence. Each accepted case will be subject to renewal for a two-year period and may also apply for employment.
Cynthia Guzman, a member of the Penn State Dominican Student Association, said deportations are destroying one life at a time, especially since many families have lived in the United States for a long time.
Guzman (senior-telecommunications) said many immigrants are involved in the community, and they should be given the opportunity they deserve. She said “bad” immigrants usually take steps toward a life of vagrancy, but there is no way to tell from looking at a person.
“[Immigrants] should be given a leap or they should be allowed to get their education, or give them a chance to develop their skills,” she said. “Then, [immigrants] might return to their home country, and they can improve that area as well.”
She said even if immigrants are educated in their home country, it might not translate into an American degree.
Guzman said in an email at a later time that none of her family members have been deported but knows some students who haven’t been able to attend college because of their immigration status.
Peter Boogaard, press secretary for the Department of Homeland Security, wrote in an email that the DHS would continue to focus on immigration enforcement but save resources by not pursuing relatively low priority cases involving productive young people.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a strong and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case,” Boogaard wrote. “These young people do not represent a risk to public safety or security.”
Boogaard said each request would be accepted or denied based on an individual’s merit. Before a case is reviewed, an individual must pass a background check and then complete the rest of the review process, he said.
The USCIS is unable to outline which immigrants will remain in the country and which immigrants will be deported, said Boogaard.
While polar political parties may squabble over the direction of the country, Penn State professor of Labor Studies and Employment Relations Ryan Lamare said these immigration measures are definitely a long time coming.
He said deferred action was a way to meet different groups halfway, and this was an achievable victory that Obama could gain. Lamare said Obama could gain Latino votes, but he doesn’t think that is the sole reason for the deferred action policy.
“I don’t think the United States is surrendering to immigrants because this country relies on that segment of the labor force,” Lamare said. “It’s an idea whose time has come.”