ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — With the stroke of a pen President Barack Obama signed an order that could keep thousands of young illegal immigrants from being deported.
The President’s executive order won’t grant illegal immigrants citizenship or grant permanent status, but it will allow a path for many to stay in the United States with a work permit.
Undocumented youths will have to meet certain requirements to stay in the U.S. They have to be under 30 years old, have come to the U.S. when they were 15 or younger, have lived here for at least five years, have no criminal record and have a high school diploma, GED or be currently enrolled in school.
Those who fit that description qualify for a two-year stay of deportation and will be able to apply for a work permit.
The policy change takes effect immediately and in many ways resembles the Dream Act that Congress has repeatedly failed to pass in recent years.
Immigration Attorney John Russo says the change is common sense and will make a big difference for undocumented workers looking for a job.
“The employers care about the work permits, and I think it makes the practical difference between getting a job and not getting a job,” Russo told KRQE News 13.
It is unclear exactly how many New Mexicans will be affected by the change, but the number of young illegal immigrants nationally is estimated at 800,000.
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New Mexico is located in the southwestern region of the U.S. Inhabited by Native American populations for many centuries, New Mexico has also been part of Imperial Spain, part of Mexico, and a U.S. territory.