President Obama Finally Grants Deportation Relief for DREAM Students
After years of increasing pressure by immigrant youth across the United States via letters and meetings with the administration, rallies, student civil disobedience (including recent sit-ins in Obama offices), as well as massive community and political support, the Department of Homeland Security has announced a deferred action to not deport the nearly 1 million undocumented students who have made this country their home.
Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES), the student arm of Voces de la Frontera, is amongst the many organizations that have fought relentlessly for this major policy change. Today, our Wisconsin high school and college students join thousands of our allies in celebrating this victory. We are grateful to the President for his moral courage, and we are especially grateful for bravery of the immigrant youth who would not back down from demanding real relief- and refusing to accept anything less.
“President Obama did the right thing today, but it is not enough. It is an important step, and we have to keep fighting for all of those who do not qualify and also deserve to live free of the fear of deportation. We will continue to struggle for the passage of the DREAM Act and immigration reform,” said Jorge Maya, a YES leader and undocumented sophomore at UW-Milwaukee.
The announcement will help restore critical trust between the Obama administration and what has been an increasingly disillusioned Latino voter base, but YES leaders remain apprehensive. The administration has 60 days to outline a clear process for implementing relief. At this time, it is NOT recommended for any undocumented person to respond until there is a clear process for how this will be implemented. We will continue to share this information as it becomes available.
The announcement indicates that undocumented students born in the United States who would have been eligible for the DREAM Act will now be immune from deportation if they:
- were brought to the US before the age of 16 and are currently younger than 30
- have resided in the US for at least 5 years
- have no criminal history
- are in school or have graduated high school or earned a GED
In addition, DHS is allowing these youth to apply for a 2-year work permit with indefinite renewals.
“Being able to apply for a work permit is an amazing opportunity for me. Now I can contribute to my family and save up for my college tuition,” says Janeth Zorrilla, an undocumented student leader of YES and a senior at St. Thomas More High School.
“This is a great day. It is a testament to the courage of immigrant youth who have tirelessly fought to realize the American dream and be fully integrated into the fabric of society. It is a victory for America as much as for the young people who have given their talent and dreams to achieve a more just society,” says Christine Neumann-Ortiz, executive director of Voces de la Frontera.
Read the statement from the Department of Homeland Security here: http://www.dhs.gov/ynews/releases/20120612-napolitano-announces-deferred-action-process-for-young-people.shtm
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