On Friday June 15, 2012, President Obama’s administration announced the largest change in US Immigration policy in decades. After years of stalled talks about the dream act, immigration reform, and amnesty; reality hit the fan in about 30 seconds on Friday. According to the press release on the US Department of Homeland Security website, the new policy is effective immediately. No election, no congressional action, no constitutional amendment. It’s just the way it’s gonna be. In his best mom impression, President Obama just said “I’m the president that’s why”. So how will the new law affect the millions of illegal immigrants living in the United States? What does this mean for the average citizen? Let’s take a look at what we know so far based on the information provided. According to Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, the United States will no longer actively seek deportation for people who meet the following criteria:
1-Came to the United States under the age of 16
2-Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3-Currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4-Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5-Are not above the age of thirty.
Now for some quick legal analysis. Let’s translate from politician to English and break down the elements of this press release. Just for fun let’s try to guess how the new rules will actually be applied and figure out what this means in reality. It doesn’t take long to see how the new law creates more questions than it does answers.
1-This one’s easy enough. You had to be under 16 when you got here. Too old? President Obama doesn’t want you. There are plenty of old people here already and none of them are voting for Obama.
2-So now we are down to people who arrived at least 5 years ago. Got here in the last 5 years? Scram, we got here first. And if you are visiting grandma right now, so sorry, you just blew your chance. Don’t dare step off US soil when we decide to change the law on immigration. Big mistake. Huge.
3-Are you ditching school today? Too bad, you could have had amnesty. Bad choice. Summer break already started? Ouch, that’s gotta hurt. In the military but not discharged yet? Sorry no amnesty for you. Should have quit yesterday. Everybody knows you sell in May and go away.
4-This is a really fun one for me as a criminal defense attorney. No felony convictions, ok easy enough. But only one misdemeanor? Seriously? Domestic violence case? Amnesty. Indecent exposure? Amnesty. Drug possession? Amnesty. Assault with a deadly weapon? Amnesty. Statutory rape? Amnesty. Driving without a license twice? No amnesty. Yeah that seems fair.
5-Not above the age of 30. Other than the president’s aversion to older voters, how this makes sense I have no idea. Are immigrants over the age of 30 more dangerous? Has the president ever heard of equal protection? For a guy with a staff full of lawyers, I don’t know how this one got published. Age discrimination…..bad for employers, bad for landlords, but ok for the Department of Homeland Security.