The Obama administration has granted relief from deportation to DREAMers.
It was announced today that the Obama administration will no longer deport some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and will allow them to apply for work permits.
Effective immediately, the policy applies to individuals who are currently under 30 years old, who arrived in the country before they turned 16 and continuously resided in the United States for at least five years, and have no criminal record.
They must also be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.
“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano in a press release this morning. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”
According to the PEW Hispanic Center, up to 1.4 million children and young adults who are in the United States undocumented could potentially benefit from the policy.
Edy Dominguez, 26, an undocumented resident in Back of the Yards, believes the news are exciting but more details need to be released to ensure it is a beneficial policy.
“It seems to be a good opportunity but we still need to inform ourselves more on the details,” he said. “The announcement was just made and we need to manage these things carefully. There are still many questions to be answered.”
Dominguez added that he believes there is a possibility that the Obama administration made the decision to enact this policy in order for his campaign not to be affected negatively by the civic actions that have occurred in some of his campaign offices throughout the country.
This afternoon, President Barack Obama held a press conference explaining his decision behind the measure.
“This is the right thing for the American people because these young people are going to make extraordinary contributions and are already making contributions to our society,” he said. “We have always drawn strength from being a nation of immigrants as well as a nation of laws and that’s going to continue.”
He added that this policy is not amnesty, a path to citizenship or a permanent fix but will “give a degree of relief and hope to patriotic young people.”
In response to the policy announcement this morning, Heartland Alliance’s National Immigrant Justice Center released a statement acknowledging the president’s efforts yet recognizing that it is not a full solution to immigration reform.
“Today’s announcement does not fully repair our country’s dysfunctional immigration system, but we hope it is a signal that at last our government recognizes and respects the contributions of immigrants. President Obama honors our history as a nation of immigrants with today’s announcement – we call on Congress to do the same and pass fair immigration reform that creates a humane system for all,” said the statement.
While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within 60 days. In the meantime, individuals seeking more information on the new policy should visit USCIS’s website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE’s website (at www.ice.gov), or DHS’s website (at www.dhs.gov). Beginning Monday, individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.
For individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria and have been offered an exercise of discretion as part of ICE’s ongoing case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer them deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.