While members of Congress continue to tussle over the details of immigration reform legislation, those affected by President Barack Obama's executive order called "deferred action for childhood arrivals" are rightly celebrating the changes the new policy has made over the past year.
The order, which went into effect Aug. 15, 2012, allows children of immigrants to apply to stay in the country if they arrived prior to age 16, lived continuously here since at least June 15, 2007, were younger than 31 last year, were enrolled in school or graduated from high school, and had not been convicted of serious crimes.
These young people, who have called America their home all their lives, can now get Social Security numbers, go to college and realize their dreams of getting good jobs and having families without the stigma and legal holdups they faced before.
Statistics recently released by the Department of Homeland Security show that 6,365 Utahns have applied and 4,756 have been approved so far. Nationally, more than a half-million people have applied, and 400,562 have been approved.
Facing the most high-centered and immobile Congress in recent history, the president did what he could, and should, to begin to eliminate the unfairness of our outdated immigration laws.
These young people have done nothing wrong, but because their parents did not go through proper channels when they came to this country, most of them from Mexico, they are caught in the legal nets set up to catch undocumented immigrants.
They would have been helped by the Dream Act, once sponsored by Utah's senior senator, Orrin Hatch, who voted this year for the Senate version of immigration reform.
Also to his credit, Hatch supports immigration-law amendments that, while not benefiting the children of undocumented immigrants as the Dream Act would have done, would allow more H-1B visas for people who attend college in America to remain and work here. Hatch rightly says it is nonsense that thousands of college students from other countries who obtain degrees here in engineering, science and math fields in which America has a shortage of trained professionals are not allowed to stay and enrich business and industry here.
Obama and Hatch are both right: U.S. immigration reform is desperately needed. Now if they could convince recalcitrant House Republicans.