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Obama’s Executive Order Gives Temporary Protection to Immigrants

By Daniel Cherry | Published 15 Aug 2012 06:58pm | comments
Hundreds of young undocumented immigrants in Mississippi and across the nation are seeking protection from deportation. The two year reprieve is the result of an executive order from President Obama, a measure that resembles the DREAM Act. MPB's Daniel Cherry reports...
 
Eighteen year old Janet Betancourt is from Mexico, but she's lived in the U.S. for 12 years. She graduated from high school in Jackson, and is enrolling in nursing school at Hinds Community College. 
 
"I'm not going to be scared because right now I feel scared to drive. I feel scared for everything. We really don't have a lot of opportunities since we're illegal."
 
Betancourt is one of many undocumented immigrants in Mississippi who completed an application for deportation referral and a two year work visa. The deferral means the federal government won't bring deportation proceedings for two years against any immigrant who meets the criteria and is approved. Patrica Ice is Legal Projects Director with the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance. 
 
"They feel like now they can come out of the shadows. With the work authorization card, they will be eligible for a social security number. They may be able to get a driver's license."
 
States can still pass their own immigration laws as long as they don't conflict with existing federal law. Governor Phil Bryant isn't happy with the order, and expects to pursue immigration reform in next year's legislative session.
 
"To tell the states first, 'You can't enforce immigration laws. We're going to sue you if you do. And then we're not going to help at all with any costs that might be coming to the states' it's another example of the federal government not doing their job, and not allowing the states to do ours."
 
Under the deferral program, an immigrant must be younger than 31, have no felonies, and had moved to the U.S. before they turned 16.

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