Obama Provides Relief for DREAMers
By Melanie Fox on 06/15/2012 @ 05:07 PM
President Obama and Secretary Janet Napolitano's announcement this past Friday was…
...one small step for immigration reform.
…one giant step for, well I don't know if I'd go so far as to say this is a "giant step" in any sense of the word. But Obama's announcement to provide temporary relief from deportation to undocumented immigrant youth (often referred to as DREAMers) will certainly make a big difference in the lives of many of these talented young people who simply want to live and work freely without fear of deportation in the only country they've ever known as home.
In the words of Obama, "They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper." Well said, Mr. President.
The Who, The What, and The Details
The new policy, effective immediately, will allow the Department of Homeland Security to provide a renewable two year status called "deferred action." Those who are eligible for the deferred action status must:
1. Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years;
3. Currently be 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;
4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5. Not be above the age of thirty.
Whether immigrants in this category are already in removal (deportation) proceedings or not, they are eligible to apply for this status. They are also eligible to apply for employment authorization, "provided they can demonstrate an economic necessity for their employment," according to the DHS website.
Remember: This Is NOT Amnesty
It is important to understand that this new policy is NOT AMNESTY in any way, shape, or form. It is simply a way to prevent this inculpable group of talented young people from being deported. They technically wouldn't even be able to travel outside the U.S. and be able to re-enter with their "deferred action" status. Congress is the only branch of government that can change immigration law to make any group eligible for a green card (or lawful permanent residence) or U.S. citizenship.
Let me reemphasize: this action is an important first step. However, it is still just a temporary solution to a problem that ultimately needs action from Congress.
Have you seen and read the cover story of the latest TIME Magazine? Check it out.