President Obama will extend his mini-amnesty for young illegals, said Cecilia Muñoz, White House director of domestic policy.
“As long as this president is president… you’re going to be able to renew your deferred action,” Muñoz told one illegal immigrant 23 minutes into an online question-and-answer session on immigration conducted via Skype.
So far, Obama’s deputies have granted the two-year “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” amnesty to at least 567,563 illegals aged between 15 and 31, giving them the right to get jobs in every state, get drivers’ licenses in some states, to enroll in school and to receive government aid. Only 21,162 illegals have been rejected. Roughly 11 million illegals are living in the United States.
Obama’s two-year amnesty will start timing out in 2014, shortly before the midterm elections.
Munoz’s promise of another mini-amnesty may torpedo the White House’s closed-door to push the House leadership to pass a very ambitious business-backed immigration bill, similar to the bill passed by the Senate in June.
Numerous GOP legislators already say they can’t strike an immigration bargain with Obama because they don’t trust him to enforce curbs on immigration. Also, polls show swing-voters strongly oppose provisions to boost the inflow of foreign workers.
Obama granted the mini-amnesty even though Congress voted down similar proposals. Roughly 20 million Americans are underemployed or unemployed. Wages have been stalled for several years, and many Americans are forced to take low-skill, low-wage jobs.
For example, there’s been a sharp jump in the number of college grads stuck in minimum-wage jobs. Their number is 71 percent higher than in 2002, says the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ latest figures. In 2012, 284,000 college graduates were working at minimum-wage jobs, up from 127,000 in 2006, according to U.S. News.
Obama announced the new rules in June 2012 during a campaign-style speech in the Rose Garden. In the months after, his support among Latinos rose sharply, and he eventually received 71 percent of the Latino vote, which comprised roughly 8.4 percent of the electorate.
Muñoz, however, downplayed Obama’s role in the amnesty.
“The president doesn’t have the authority to suspend deportations. … That was a action by the Department of Homeland Security, and it was a use of its enforcement authority,” she claimed.
Vice President Joe Biden was part of the video conference, and he also played down Obama’s role: “It is not the president saying, ‘I’m changing the law, you can stay.’”
“He doesn’t have the authority to say that,” Biden said.
Up to 1.9 million illegal immigrants could be given work permits under Obama’s policy, according to an August 2013 report by the Migration Policy Institute. That’s triple the original estimate of 800,000 announced by the government in June 2012.
Roughly 900,000 of the potential beneficiaries are aged 14 or below, making them too young to be eligible. Just over 1 million people are immediately eligible for the temporary amnesty, said the MPI report.
Only 8,000 of the 1 million immediate beneficiaries have a post-graduate degree, and only 53,000 have a bachelor’s degree, according to the MPI report. That means only 6 percent of eligible illegals have college credentials. In comparison, 20 percent of native-born Americans hold college degrees.
Roughly 240,000 of the eligibles, however, are enrolled in a college and may graduate with two-year or four-year degrees, said the MPI report.
Almost half, or 482,000, of the currently eligible candidates are unskilled workers, with only a high-school qualification, said the report.
Illegals older than 30 in June 2012 are ineligible, according to the current DACA rules.
The video exchange was arranged by the Bing online service, which is run by Microsoft. The company is lobbying to increase the inflow of foreign workers.
Many immigration reformers are willing to offer legal status to the illegals who arrived as children, said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies. They’d offer that prize in exchange for non-political enforcement of immigration laws, a legal requirement that employers check would-be employees’ eligibility to work, plus checks at airports to record the arrival and verify the departure of tourists and business visitors, he said.
But that exchange isn’t on the table because progressives and businesses are using the younger illegals as sympathetic poster-children in their allied push for the far-reaching Senate bill, he said.
If House Republicans submit to the pressure, the Senate bill would deliver millions of Democratic-leaning immigrants to Democratic politicians, more low-wage university workers to major companies and increased profits to investors, Krikorian said.
The losers from that law would be American workers and families, he said.