The simple answer is no. It is called the Morton Memo. The memo attempts to control an overcrowded deportation court. Actually, there never was a true immigration amnesty in U.S. History. Programs called Legalization and Registration disqualified many applicants, as well.
Unfortunately, a few immigration attorneys, unlawful immigration consultants, and all anti-immigration groups make the ridiculous claim of an amnesty. No proposed immigration bills to create laws are an immigration amnesty. These statements get peoples attention, upset voters and scare away Congressional support for meaningful immigration reform. These claims get some foreigners into deportation trouble, as well.
The claim of amnesty is repeatedly and wrongly declared in the media every time a new immigration visa bill is presented to Congress. This too often destroys and stops well meaning House and Senate Immigration Bills from becoming laws. Some foreigners end up deported after they are disqualified for a USCIS application that was improperly filed for them.
The Morton Memo has not completely changed things, yet. Those foreigners who are unlawfully in the U.S. may still get deported. If discovered by Federal Agents, a foreigner may be required to appear in immigration court (also known as "EOIR" or "Executive Office of Immigration Review"). What happened is that D.H.S. issued an important policy memo. The Memo, not law, may now delay or stop some deportations.
So what does this "Morton Memo" do? Well, some of those who have entered without a visa can ask and pay for an experienced immigration attorney to take the time to make a carefully written request to immigration prosecutors. This request must discuss the issues in the memo that may allow the prosecutors to close or dismiss an immigration court case.
The Morton Memo's purpose is to allow for some immigration court cases to be temporarily closed or dismissed. This allows Immigration prosecutors to focus on foreigners who were convicted of more serious and violent criminal offenses. There are simply not enough Americans who will pay the taxes to reasonably enforce the current deportation laws.
Does this mean that all "Morton Memo" Requests to close and dismiss deportation cases are granted? No, it means that a person who the government tries to deport can present a request to have their case closed or dismissed on a temporary basis. A decision must be made by the prosecutors. This is not new, but some prosecutors tended to ignore the option in spite of the Immigration Court backlogs.
Does it mean that a person in deportation will be given a right to stay in the U.S.? It depends on the facts. A decision to close or dismiss a case may allow for some forms of relief from deportation to be 'possible' in the future. It does not mean that the Immigration Judges will necessarily approve a green card. However, if the law changes while a person is in the U.S. without a final deportation order, they may be able to re-open their deportation case and try to request the right to stay.
The reason that President Obama's Staff issued the Morton Memo is simple. The Government wants to successfully secure deportation orders against the most offensive and violent non-U.S. Citizens. The Immigration Courts are full of non-violent immigration law violators. These are non-criminals. This means that many must be housed in County jails or processed through the limited immigration courts. This costs too much money. It also delays deportations that will otherwise go quicker. The Immigration Courts need more docket time to efficiently work to deport more serious criminal non-Citizens.
Yet, in deporting many foreign born, our Congress creates more complications. Deportations affect our relationships with other Nations. Foreign born criminals who are deported often are deemed America's Problems. These folks are too often subject to prejudice and persecution, since many speak better in English. Congress and many Americans are unaware of the complications created by the last two decades of deportation laws.
U.S. Citizens often want their deported spouses and children back in the U.S. The decision to create laws that encourage emigration from the U.S. are often meant to de-populate the U.S. There are some who want the U.S. Population to drop to nineteenth century levels. This makes little economic sense. Anti-immigration groups with their tactics encourage U.S. Citizens to live outside the U.S. for the rest of their lives. There are too few Americans who advocate for enforceable and workable immigration laws.
The decision to repeatedly and successfully deport and criminally convict non-Citizens for unlawful re-entry is very expensive. It takes resources away from prosecuting more serious criminal offenses in Federal Courts. This is why the Department of Homeland Security has sent the Morton Memo to its prosecutors.
The Memo gives prosecutors the right to carefully chose the deportation cases that are against the worst non-Citizen offenders. This allows prosecutors to spend more time to successfully deport those who least deserve to stay in the U.S. in the prosecutors' opinions.
American Families with deportable relatives must annually make the effort to complain to Congress in a more vocal or public manner. The laws will have to change. Otherwise, the Department of Homeland Security must continue to follow the current restrictive laws.
This laws require that the Government can decide who to deport and deny greencard, even if it too often seems immoral to some. Deportations may continue even if a foreigner has not committed a crime. Many immigration offenses are not crimes. The Morton Memo does not stop the Government from deporting a foreigner who entered the U.S. without a visa or overstayed their I-94 entry card. It is discretion that allows the U.S.C.I.S. to allow a paid applicant to process some greencard petitions in the U.S.
The Morton Memo gives some foreigners who can be deported a second chance. The Memo allows efforts to try to stop deportation, It may provide them a way to lawfully immigrate in the future. It is not an amnesty.