President Barack Obama is using his control over government agencies to establish a semi-amnesty for younger illegal immigrants, even though the nation’s youth unemployment rate is already at a record level.
The new policy was announced as polls showed that Obama’s re-election campaign is losing ground in critical states, including Wisconsin, North Carolina and Florida.
Obama’s campaign deputies have frequently said that the Hispanic vote is critical to their success in several swing-states, such as Florida, Colorado and North Carolina.
The impact of the new amnesty on American Hispanic voters is unclear, partly because polls show they’re most concerned about jobs and the economy, and they’re worried about cross-border crime.
However, the semi-amnesty for illegal immigrants was immediately praised by advocacy organizations that offer to mobilize Hispanic voters for Obama in November 2012.
“Today’s news is truly a dream come true for me and for so many other DREAMers across the country,” said Felipe Matos, an illegal immigrant and a gay organizer for the advocacy group GetEqual.
Matos’ reference to “DREAMers” refers to illegal immigrants eligible for amnesty under the controversial and failed bill, the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act.
The partial-amnesty would grant “deferred action” status to illegal immigrants aged up to 30 who can show they’ve violated the nation’s immigrant laws for at least five years by entering the country before 2007. People with “deferred action” status can work legally.
However, applicants who have committed a felony or more than two misdemeanors would be excluded.
Initial estimates say up to 800,000 illegal immigrants would be eligible, but many new illegals may cross the borders to claim they arrived before 2007.
Government officials lack a reliable way to verify that an illegal immigrant entered the country before 2007. Officials also lack a reliable way of gauging an applicant’s age, so people older than 30 may apply for the youth amnesty. Government officials also lack an easy way to check for criminal activity by illegal immigrants.
A June 15 statement by the Department of Homeland Security said illegal immigrants could demonstrate their eligibility for the amnesty by showing “financial records, medical records, school records, employment records, and military records” or other documents. However, such documents can be forged, leaving DHS officials the task of distinguishing between real and fake documents.
Currently, youth unemployment is formally estimated at 14 percent by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
In practice, youth unemployment is much higher among rural whites, among Hispanics and African-Americans because many many younger people do not search for jobs amid the high unemployment. For example, less than half of African-Americans aged between 18 and 30 have full-time jobs, according to the BLS.
“People who come forward [to request the amnesty] are doing it because they want to work,” an administration official said June 15.
Since 2009, Obama has put a low priority on immigration, despite continuous pressure from Hispanic advocacy groups seeking a broad amnesty law, dubbed a “comprehensive immigration reform.”
However, Obama has talked up the issue in recent days as his campaign stalled.
“We still have to put more people back to work… We still have to reform our immigration system to make sure that incredibly talented young people who grew up here, who understand themselves as Americans, but may have been brought here with parents who didn’t have papers — that those kids have a chance to contribute, start businesses, and thrive and do all the things that remind us this is a nation of immigrants as well as a nation of laws,” he told a roomful of wealthy attendees at a $40,000-per-plate June 14 fundraiser.