By Bert Eljera
LAS VEGAS – About 1.4 million children and young adults who are in the United States illegally are affected by the recent change in deportation policies by the Obama Administration.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, in a report issued on June 15, most of the persons to be protected are 18 to 30, and are in the labor force.
About 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who are ages 18 to 30 but arrived in the U.S as children, and are currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school.
An additional 700,000 who are under the age of 18 and are enrolled in school. This includes 150,000 who are currently enrolled in high school, the Pew Hispanic Center said.
In a move considered by many, particularly Republicans, as politically-motivated, President Obama last week issued a directive halting the deportation of about 800,000 young immigrants, including thousands of Filipinos, who, as children, were brought to the United States illegally.
“These young people did not make the decision to come to this country, and it is not the American way to punish children for their parents’ actions,” said Assistant Majority Leader Dick Durbin, who praised Obama’s directive.
“The Obama administration’s decision to extend temporary legal status to Dream Act students is a historic humanitarian moment,” he said.
But Republicans contend that by issuing an executive order to effect the immigration policy changes, Obama is bypassing Congress, which alone has the power to make those changes.
It is also contended that the Obama move was intended to win over the Latino vote in the November election.
The Dream Act, in which Durbin is a co-sponsor, offered a path to acquiring legal status for thousands of young people brought to this country illegally by their parents.
It failed to muster enough votes in the U.S. Senate to prevent a filibuster.
Overall, the 1.4 million estimate represents about 12% of the 11.2 million unauthorized immigrants in the U.S. as of 2010, according to an estimate by the Pew Hispanic Center.
Among the 1.4 million potential beneficiaries of the new policy, some 70% are from Mexico. A Pew Hispanic Center survey taken late last year found that by a margin of 59% to 27%, Latinos oppose the deportation policies of the Obama Administration.
Among Latinos, some 41% are aware that the number of deportations of unauthorized immigrants annually has been higher during the Obama Administration than during the George W. Bush Administration, while 36% say the two Administrations have deported the same number of unauthorized immigrants, and 10% say fewer have been deported under the Obama administration.
Nearly 400,000 unauthorized immigrants were deported annually during the first two years of the Obama Administration .Among those deported in 2010, nearly all (97%) were Hispanic. By comparison, among all unauthorized immigrants, 81% are Hispanic.