By Miriam Raftery
Sierra Robinson also contributed to this report
June 18, 2012 (Washington D.C.)— "It makes no sense to expel talented young people who are, for all intents and purposes, Americans," said President Obama Friday, speaking at the White House. View a video.
The President noted that many children of undocumented immigrants have grown up in America, only learning of their own undocumented status when they apply for a driver’s license or a job.
Under a new policy announced by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, young immigrants who meet certain criteria will no longer be deported. Instead, those who qualify will be eligible for deferred action for two years, subject to renewal.
“This is good news for the `dreamers’ and the students, and for our families affected by this issue,” Estela de Los Rios, local immigrants’ rights leader, told ECM. But she criticized election-year politicking, adding that for humane reasons, the Dream Act should be passed.
Having children and young people in legal limbo “ is affecting families with American values,” said de Los Rios at CSA, a San Diego-based organization that assists immigrants. The El Cajon resident is also co-founder of the national immigrant marches.
Noting that thousands of young people have been deported in recent years, she added, “Whose interests are we really looking out for? The parties, the elections, or the families whose children are being deported?”
In Congress, Republicans have blocked the Dream Act, which would make permanent the changes the Obama administration has implemented temporarily.
Republican leaders blasted the President’s action. House Judiciary Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) called the change “a decision to grant amnesty to potentially millions of illegal immigrants.”
President Obama, however, debunked that statement. “This is not amnesty. This is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship,” he said of the temporary measure. He added that only Congress has the power to grant amnesty.
To qualify for the deferment, a young person must have come to the U.S. when they were under age 16, and must be no more than 30 years old today. They must have lived here for at least five years and be present in the U.S. on the date the change was made. A young person must either be a student currently in school, have graduated from high school or have a general educationdevelopment (GED) certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. military or Coast Guard. A young person would not be eligible if they have been convicted of a felony, a serious misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors.
To view frequently asked questions and Secretary Napolitano’s announcement, click
For more information on the policy, visit the U.S. Customs and Immigration Services webstie at www.uscis.gov or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at www.ice.gov, or Dept. of Homeland Security at www.dhs.gov.