Obama Administration Announces New Immigration Policy
The Obama Administration announced today that it will no longer seek the deportation of young illegal immigrants without criminal records who came to the US as children, and instead allow them to apply for work permits, effective immediately. Individuals who meet five criteria will be eligible under the new deferred action process. The criteria require that the individual entered the US before age 16; lived in the US for five years and still lives in the US; is enrolled in school, graduated from high school, obtained a GED certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran; does not have a criminal record and does not pose a threat to security; and is no older than age 30.
In a Department of Homeland Security press release, Secretary Janet Napolitano wrote, "Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner. But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
The requirements under the new policy are identical to those under a proposed 2010 Senate bill, the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM); though the Obama Administration does not say the new regulations are an administrative version of DREAM. The DREAM Act is particularly important for undocumented women and their children, whose median income is $16,562 lower than US citizens. Without access to legal immigration status, undocumented women are increasingly vulnerable to a vicious cycle of poverty. The new process does not provide a pathway to citizenship, but it does represent a major policy shift.
Media Resources: DHS Press Release 6/15/12; AP 6/15/12; NBC 6/15/12; CNN 6/15/12; Washington Post 6/15/12
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .