Friday, June 15, 2012
DREAM Act Realized Finally for Some
Image to the right is from Lalo Alcaraz; artist, cartoonist, writer.
The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) is an American legislative proposal first introduced in the Senate on August 1, 2001. To read the history of the DREAM Act please see this wikipedia link.
This new direction will affect nearly 800,000 humans who live with fear of deportation from the US. In 2011 ICE deported 396,906 people and is exceeding that record high this year. While researching how many young immigrants have been deported since 2008 I came across this website; We Dream, We act with this article Undocumented Youth Sit-In at OFA Denver Office. Their demand was finally heard: "We need the strength of an executive order to stop our deportations. Prosecutorial discretion has not stopped them."
Thank God for elections so some of these injustices can be acted on finally. Obama is addressing the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials' annual conference next week. The hispanic/latino vote is critical to Obama's re-election. For whatever reason the President's administration decided to act on this sensible legislation and pass an executive order, he is to be commended. Just imagine the joy running through so many hearts today that their DREAM now can be realized.
Image above from We Dream We Act by J. Valas
Below is the press release from the DHS:
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings. 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 Napolitano. “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.”
DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. Today’s action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:
1.) Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2.) Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3.) Are 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;
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.) Are not above the age of thirty.
Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date. Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.