Temporary Relief

Overhaul / About 200 people gather Nov. 20 on Aliso Street, outside the Los Angeles Metropolitan Detention Center, to watch a jumbo screen of President Obama’s speech on executive action on immigration. / Gina Ferazzi / TNS

By executive order President Obama expands immigrants’ rights

By Jovany Leon

About five million immigrants without legal status could stay in the U.S. temporarily without fear of deportation, President Obama said in his speech to the nation Nov. 20.

The requirements stated by the president apply to immigrants who have lived in the U.S. at least five years, have children born in the country, register and pass a criminal background check, as well as pay taxes can apply to stay in the country for up to three years.

In addition, the president announced new requirements for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals that will be less restrictive.

The DACA cutoff date was changed from June 2012 to Jan. 2010 and the age limit for anyone 31 years or older was eliminated.

While the president’s executive action will allow more undocumented immigrants to stay in the U.S. temporarily, he says it does not grant citizenship or permanent status.

Currently, about 11 million people within the U.S. are without papers, according to the 2010 census.

“All we’re saying is we’re not going to deport you,” Obama said.

At the same time, the president discontinued Secure Communities, a program created in 2008 and used by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to identify and deport immigrants without legal status.

A memo from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson went into detail about the reasons the program ended.

The program received criticism because it focused on immigrants who were arrested and charged with a crime but had not been convicted.

In addition, the program lacked support by local and state law enforcement officials.

In the memo, Johnson directed ICE to continue using fingerprint scans of immigrants under police custody that will be sent to the FBI for criminal background checks. Concurrently, Obama beefed up border security to prevent unauthorized crossings.