Around 100,000 Jamaicans could benefit from new Obama immigration policy

(Jamaica Gleaner) Leaders in the Jamaican Diaspora in the United States estimate that as many as 100,000 Jamaicans could benefit from the new immigration policy announced today by US President Barack Obama.

Under the new policy, the US Government has agreed to stop the deportation of undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country before they were 16 years-old and are currently under 30 years-old.

Those who fall within that category will be allowed to apply for work permits that will be good for two years with no limits on the number of times it can be renewed.

However, these persons will have to demonstrate that they have been in the US for the last five years, do not have a criminal record and that they graduated from a US high school or served in the military.

Chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora US North East Region Patrick Beckford says the surprise announcement, which takes immediate effect, was long overdue.

And despite criticisms that the policy is an election year ploy by the Obama administration, Beckford says it will have a huge impact as it will help families to move out of the shadows of deportation and lead normal lives.

And Irwin Clare, the Managing Director of Caribbean Immigrant Services based in New York City, says the announcement is very timely as it comes at a time when most of those who stand to benefit are graduating high school.

Clare says those who are undocumented would face a serious challenge in furthering their education.

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