Around 400,000 migrants from the state of Jalisco will benefit from President Barack Obama’s sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration system via executive action.
The figure represents almost nine percent of the total number of Mexicans – approximately 3.5 million – who will be eligible to apply for legal status to live in the United States. Unauthorized immigrants from Mexico account for two-thirds of those who will receive deportation relief under Obama’s initiative, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis.
Obama’s action will also make the immigration process faster and easier for high-skilled immigrants and expand work authorization for those in line for green card. This could result in 150,000 to 200,000 new workers moving to the United States.
In contrast to the anger of conservatives in the United States, politicians in Mexico and Latin America are delighted at Obama’s bold move.
In a statement, the Mexican Foreign Relations Ministry said the measure will allow “significant numbers of Mexicans to increase their opportunities as well as help them live with greater dignity and certainty.”
In a comment perhaps targeted at critics of the measures, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said, “This is an act of justice which recognizes the great contribution of millions of Mexicans to the development of our neighbor.”
Obama went on prime time television to announce his plans to offer temporary legal status to approximately five million undocumented immigrants, among other actions.
The most substantial change grants protection from deportation to about 4.3 million unauthorized immigrants, in addition to those given relief via the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative signed by Obama in 2012.
Immigrants will be eligible to apply for three years of relief from deportation – as well as work permits – if they arrived in the United States under the age of 16 and before 2010; or if they arrived before 2010 and have at least one child who is a U.S. citizen or legal resident. Of these, about 700,000 have adult children and the remaining 2.8 million have children younger than 18.
This means that parents of a U.S. citizen can now go about their lives free from the constant fear of deportation, as long as they pass a criminal background check.