Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is hailing the Obama administration’s decision not to deport young, law-abiding illegal immigrants who came here as children.
“This action by the president makes it possible for these young men and women, who have spent most of their lives in this country, to pursue education and employment opportunities and to make a contribution to American society,” O’Malley said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“The United States has historically welcomed immigrants from throughout the world, to improve their own lives and to contribute to the common good of our nation,” said O’Malley, who heads the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
President Obama’s surprise declaration Friday granting temporary residency to the illegal immigrants received a joyful reception among the state’s immigrant community.
The Obama administration granted immigrants brought to America before age 16 the right to apply for deferred action, meaning they will not be deported and can apply for work permits.
To be eligible, immigrants must not have any serious criminal convictions and must be in school or have received a high school diploma or its equivalent. They cannot be over age 30.
The election season move by Obama comes as the more expansive DREAM Act has stalled in Congress.
O’Malley expressed support for that proposal, saying, “It is my hope that the US Congress will see the wisdom of providing the full range of rights and protections which this Act contains.”