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Shades of E3

There's more than a shade of E3 about the break that President Obama delivered last week for an estimated 800,000 young people in the U.S. who have grown up here but who are illegal because they were brought to the country by parents who were themselves illegal.

Obama's executive order is a substitute for the Dream Act, a stalled measure in Congress (one of many) that is primarily the work of Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin.

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The order will open the way for young men and women, Irish among them, to secure two year renewable work visas, though, importantly, there is no follow-up path to green cards or eventual citizenship. In this regard, what the president has ordered looks very like the E3 Visa proposal for Ireland that has been bouncing around for some time now.

The requirements for a "dream" visa include:

* Must have entered the United States before the age of 16 and have not yet

turned 30.

* Have continuously lived in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and were residing in the United States on that date

* Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or U.S. Armed Forces.

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* Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, three or more minor misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Meanwhile, according to a release, individuals currently in removal proceedings, or subject to a final order of removal, can still qualify for deferred action, as are those who accepted administrative closure, or whose case was terminated.

Those who meet the above eligibility criteria and who are encountered by CBP or ICE officials should be able to stop further enforcement actions based on the agency's prosecutorial discretion criteria. ICE and USCIS personnel responsible for considering requests for an exercise of prosecutorial discretion will receive special training on this new process.

Which all means that a very significant number of young people, who are for all intents and purposes American in thought and spirit, can wake up in the morning without the kind of fear that comes from living in the shadows.

There is understandable argument surrounding Obama's move of course, and yes, it is an election year. But for many thousands of people who see themselves as American 2012 was just another year of wasted time, talent and opportunity.

Now it has turned into quite another year altogether.

It is to be hoped that the president's move will now inspire both sides in Congress to deal seriously with the immigration mess, in total, or in its individual constituent parts.