In new policy unveiled by the White House today, President Obama plans to immediately stop certain deportations and instead grant work permits to younger illegal immigrants. That means many children of illegal immigrants, including some in Philadelphia, will now be able to avoid deportation. The new policy which would apply to illegal immigrants under 30, who arrived in the US when they were 15 or younger.
Miguel Andrande, a Youth Organizer for Juntos, a community-led Latino rights group in South Philadelphia, said it’s a step in the right direction.
“I’m seeing some reaction from the youth in my youth group and some are really excited about it and see it as a way to finally get to work, especially since some of them just graduated high school,” said Andrande.
But Andrande said, it’s not enough.
“It’s not the big win that we’re all fighting for and from my point of view it’s clearly a political move — especially since it’s election season — it’s clear that Obama’s trying to secure the Latino vote,” Andrande.
To qualify under the new policy, immigrants must have a high school diploma, GED, or military service. They cannot have a criminal record.
Andrande said he wishes the policy benefited more immigrants. He said because of failing schools, a lot of young people the policy could have helped, have dropped out and been caught up in illegal activity.
Erika Almiron, the executive director of Juntos, said she’s happy about the policy change but says it won’t help all youth.
“We have young people who are in South Philadelphia and have dropped out because they didn’t think that college was an option,” said Almiron. “So we have a lot of situations where people don’t have diplomas.”
Opponents, as well as supporters of the change, question whether the policy shift is a tactical move to help Obama garner votes in the upcoming election.