Every day, more than 3,000 young illegal immigrants apply for relief under the U.S.’s new deportation reprieve policy, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said last week. So far, roughly 200,000 people have applied since the agency began accepting applications two months ago.
The agency began accepting applications in June when the new policy was announced — after President Obama failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform as he had promised when he was running for the presidency as a candidate in 2008. Obama is hoping the new policy will help him win over Latinos, because he needs the Latino vote to get reelected.
Latinos account for more than half of the U.S. population. The growing numbers of Latinos suggest that whether Obama or Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is elected, the next president will have to further deal with the change in policy.
Romney has been critical of the administration’s policy, because the Obama plan is a temporary fix and does not grant a form of permanent status. Romney has said if he is elected, he would not revoke permits granted under the change. He has also said his immigration reform plan would make deferred action unnecessary, making his plan better than Obama’s temporary fix designed to win an election.
“Our immigration system is broken,” Romney has said.
Napolitano announced earlier this year the agency would focus its resources on deporting illegal immigrants who are the most serious criminals. The policy allows people under 31 who were brought the United States illegally by their parents to remain in the country for at least two years and get a temporary work permit. And the two-year permit can be renewed. Obama’s policy is not, however, a permanent solution for these immigrants.
Applicants cannot have committed a felony or have been convicted of more than two misdemeanors. They also must have lived in the U.S. for the past five years, have graduated from high school or received an equivalent diploma, or been honorably discharged from the military.
Romney agrees with the military clause and is willing to work with Congressman Marco Rubio to create a permanent solution to this immigration challenge.