President Obama’s plan for taking executive action on undocumented immigrants in the U.S. won’t be officially announced until Obama addresses the nation later this evening. But White House officials, and a White House press release leaked ahead of Obama’s speech, paint a picture of the reported four million undocumented individuals who will be directly impacted.
Obama’s new deferred deportation plan, which the government will begin accepting applications for early next year, will give temporary, three-year relief from deportation, along with the ability to work legally in the country, to two specific classes of individuals: undocumented parents of a U.S. citizen or legal permanent resident, and undocumented immigrants who arrived in the country before the age of 16. In both cases, the individual must have continuously lived in the country for a minimum of five years—or since Jan. 1, 2010.
Individuals who meet this criteria, “will have the opportunity to request temporary relief from deportation and work authorization if they come forward and pass criminal and national security background checks, pay their taxes, pay a fee,” according to the White House press release. “These executive actions will not benefit immigrants who recently crossed the border (defined as those who entered the country after January 1, 2014), who may cross the border in the future, or who help those who cross in the future, but rather immigrants who have been living in the United States for years.”
Ahead of the speech, the White House has “sought to portray [Obama’s] actions as an effort to ensure that the U.S. immigration system focuses on deporting the highest-priority immigrants, such as felons, gang members, and recent border-crossers,” according to the Washington Post. “According to prepared excerpts, Obama plans to say that mass deportation of the nation’s more than 11 million illegal immigrants ‘would be both impossible and contrary to our character.’ But he will also argue that his plans do not amount to ‘amnesty’ but rather increased ‘accountability’ for the nation’s 11 million illegal immigrants.”