Nearly 5 million illegal immigrants are expected to be eligible for paperwork allowing them to remain and work in the U.S. But many of the remaining illegal immigrants who were not granted legal status will also likely benefit from the executive actions President Obama announced Thursday night.
“[T]he bottom line is that nearly every illegal alien who arrived here before January 1, 2014 will be exempt from deportation. Potentially about half of them will be able to get work permits, unless Congress takes action to block or blunt that,” Center for Immigration Studies expert Jessica Vaughan explained to Breitbart News.
“It’s hard to predict how many people will actually apply for the work permits, but the reality is that nearly all of them will face no threat of deportation,” she added.
According to the administration’s new removal priorities, a consequence of Obama’s executive actions, the Department of Homeland Security is focusing its attention on immigrants deemed to be national security threats, illegal immigrants apprehended at the border, gang members, and convicted felons.
A second tier of removal priorities, under the revised policies, are those who have been convicted of three or more misdemeanors, convicted of a “significant misdemeanor,” and those who entered or re-entered the U.S. after Jan. 1, 2014.
The third priority, under the new guidelines, are those illegal immigrants who have been issued a final order for removal on or after Jan. 1, 2014.
Further, the executive order eliminates the Secure Communities Act, and replaces it with the Priority Enforcement Program which greatly limits the kinds of illegal immigrants ICE can seek to transfer from local law enforcement.
“[U]nless the alien poses a demonstrable risk to national security, enforcement actions through the new program will only be taken against aliens who are convicted of specifically enumerated crimes,” DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson described in his memo to agency heads about the end of Secure Communities program Thursday.
Further, ICE will no longer be requesting state and local law enforcement to detain illegal immigrants but rather asking they notify ICE of an upcoming release of a deportable alien. Vaughan notes the elimination of Secure Communities will make it even more difficult to accomplish what the administration says is its main priority for deportation.
“The President implies that ICE will now focus on deporting criminals, but that will become much more difficult for them to do because he is gutting the Secure Communities program, which enables them to learn which illegal aliens have been arrested – and since they won’t be able to detain most of them, it is guaranteed that many more illegal alien criminals will escape prosecution and go on living here as before,” Vaughan explained.
An interesting note to the changes in priority deal with the surge in unaccompanied illegal immigrant minors and family units. Much of the spike in apprehensions in the Unaccompanied Alien Children and family unit categories occurred in 2014, however border apprehensions of UACs from Central America actually began to rise in 2012, the year Obama announced his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
With the new removal order priorities, the UAC and family units from Central America that came prior to Jan. 1, 2014 are no longer a priority for removal.