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New immigration rules could help younger people avoid deportation

For a number of young illegal immigrants living in North Carolina, temporary relief from the threat of deportation may be right around the corner. Under immigration rules announced in an executive order created by President Obama, immigrants who meet particular criteria may be able to work and live in the United States for a period of two years, with the possibility for extension after the initial period expires.

The criteria are specific, and individuals must show that they meet each one to qualify for the program. In order to be eligible, illegal immigrants must have come to the U.S. when they were younger than 16, must presently be no older than 30, must be current residents of the U.S. and must have lived here for the last five years. There are other requirements as well.

In addition, certain criminal involvement will prevent immigrants from entering the deferred action program. Immigrants must not have committed a number of smaller misdemeanor crimes, a serious misdemeanor or a felony offense. This policy is in line with the Department of Homeland Security's often repeated policy of pursuing for deportation only those immigrants who have criminal records.

Lastly, there is an education or military requirement. Immigrants must have received an honorable discharge, received a high school diploma or be in school at the present time. Correct paperwork is necessary to prove compliance with each of the criteria.

It is important to note that even if immigrants successfully enter the program, they do not gain U.S. citizenship or receive a guarantee of future citizenship. But a number of immigrants can take advantage of the government's offered reprieve to work here and avoid returning to a county that they, because of their young age, perhaps know less well than the U.S.

Source: The Charlotte Observer, "Obama announces U.S. will stop deporting some young illegal immigrants," Lesley Clark, June 15, 2012.

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