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Obama immigration policy change gets mixed review in Michigan

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

A major change in U.S. immigration policy is getting a mixed reaction from advocates for undocumented immigrants in Michigan. 

The Obama administration says it will stop deporting illegal immigrants, who are under 30 years old, as long as they have lived in the United States since before they were 16. They will have to have a clean criminal record, a high school diploma and meet other requirements.

They would be able to apply for two year renewable work permits.

Fr. Fred Thelen is the pastor of Lansing’s Cristo Rey Church. He’s also an advocate for undocumented immigrants. Thelen welcomes the change, but he says a clear path of citizenship would be better.

“Young people could move ahead with their lives…get college educations and so forth…offer the great gifts and talents to our country that we very much need at a time to revitalize our economy,” says Fr. Thelen. 

But conservative groups are upset that the Obama administration is allowing undocumented immigrants of any age go undeported.

Project 21 is a group affiliated with the conservative think tank, the National Center for Public Policy Research. 

"How is it possible that the Obama Administration can see fit to essentially grant immunity and create access to jobs for illegal aliens between the ages of 16 and 30, when unemployment among legal citizens of the same age is sky-high?" asked Project 21 spokesman Kevin Martin. 

The policy change could affect up to 800,000 young people nationwide.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Radio since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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