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Obama moves on immigration reform
21 Nov 2014 10:10
US President Barack Obama will today sign into law a series of measures that will protect up to five million illegal immigrants from deportation.
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It will also offer many a better chance of making visits to their home countries.
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In a televised address last night, Mr Obama outlined the executive action he plans to take, which will offer work permits to millions of undocumented people, potentially including thousands of Irish people.
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The executive action he outlined falls into three groups: changes to enforcement, new visa types, and a new temporary legal status for illegal immigrants.
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Under the plans, those who are in the US illegally for at least five years, have children who are either US citizens or legal residents, and who pass a criminal background check, will be entitled to protection from deportation.
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They will also be allowed to apply for a work permit if they register for taxes and social security.
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Enforcement officials will only deport those convicted of serious criminal offences, rather than those who have been arrested for minor offences.
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There are new visas for students who complete science and technology degrees and for entrepreneurs who have capital funding and can create jobs.
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Perhaps most significantly, there will be what is described as a relaxation of the re-entry ban imposed on illegal immigrants who leave the US to return to their home countries.
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Once they obtain advance permission, those with temporary status will be allowed to come and go for reasons of personal hardship.
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The changes are expected to begin to take force from early next year.
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