Dreamers Get Two More Years to Dream
Limited Relief for Dreamers
The President announced today (6/15/2012) that the Department of Homeland Security is taking administrative action to give some relief for young immigrants called “Dreamers” – people who were brought here from another country by their parents, and who now have no legal documents to allow them to stay here, where they grew up.
Many of these young people were brought here as babies or small children; they grew up in American schools, they speak English as their primary language, and they have little experience with the country their parents emigrated from. Lacking necessary documents to re-enter the country if they left to visit grandparents or other relatives, many have never even visited their parents’ homes.
Without legislation, the Department can take only limited action. The President had already directed the Department of Homeland Security to focus immigration enforcement at the border and on immigrants with criminal records or who pose a threat to the safety of U.S. communities. The Department undertook this step as one action to focus its enforcement efforts where they are most needed. As of the date of this announcement, young immigrants who would qualify for the “Dream Act” are eligible for “deferred action” -- that is, their deportation may be delayed by two years. They will also be eligible for a work permit.
To qualify for a deferment as a "Dreamer," a person must have come to the U.S. under the age of 16, and be under the age of 30 now.
They must have been continuously in the U.S. for five years, including today, when this announcement was made.
They must not have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor or multiple misdemeanors.
And they must be
- currently in school, or have graduated from high school or have received a GED, OR
- have been honorably discharged from U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
People who are now in deportation proceedings and who qualify under the policy announced today may apply for “deferred action,” which will delay the date of their deportation for two years. Two months from now, the department will be ready to receive applications from people who are not now in deportation proceedings.
It’s a step – a small step to remedy one effect of an immigration system that is seriously out of step with reality. Today’s announcement provides some relief – but it’s only temporary, and does not allow these young people to make long term plans for their futures here in this country. Only compassionate and fair comprehensive immigration reform can offer that level of hope.
For more information, see Secretary Janet Napolitano's Press Release.