Congress has refused to pass the Dream Act, which would offer a path to citizenship to young illegal immigrants who enroll in college or serve in the military. Today President Obama ordered a quasi-amnesty for young illegal immigrants who’d be protected from deportation and allowed work permits. To qualify, they must have arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, live in the U.S. for at least five years, be no more than 30 now, have a high school diploma or GED, attend college or serve in the military. Those with criminal records will not be eligible.
If the executive order withstands a legal challenge, the promise of a work permit could motivate more immigrant students to finish high school — or at least earn a GED — and enroll in community college. Apparently, they won’t have to finish a credential.
I predict pressure to waive deportation for young immigrants with minor criminal records and weak academic credentials.
Update: Obama’s executive order means increased competition for jobs and college places, the Washington Post headlines. The jobs issues will be the biggie.
I don’t know if Obama will gain more Latino votes than he’ll lose in the backlash against adding 800,000 young workers to the above-ground labor force at a time of high unemployment.