June 16, 2012 - Dreams Come True with Obama Announcement on Deferred Action

On June 15, 2012, President Obama made a surprising, but welcomed, announcement regarding the future of undocumented youth called DREAMers. The President announced that effective immediately the Department of Homeland Security will offer deferred action to DREAMers.

DREAMers are young people that would be eligible for the DREAM Act if it were passed.  Generally they are bright young children who are interested in attending college or joining the millitary but are undocumented. DREAMers are children that were brought to the United States by the parents and due to no fault of their own.

Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of
prosecutorial discretion. Deferred action does not confer lawful status upon an individual. In addition,
although an alien granted deferred action will not be considered to be accruing unlawful presence in the United States during the period deferred action is in effect, deferred action does not absolve individuals of any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.

President Obama highlighted an important point in his speech confirming that deferred action is NOT amnesty:

"Now, let's be clear -- this is not amnesty, this is not immunity. This is not a path to citizenship. It's not a permanent fix. This is a temporary stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people."

Under existing regulations, an individual who has been granted deferred action is eligible to receive
employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an
economic necessity for employment.” Deferred action can be terminated at any time at the agency’s
discretion or renewed by the agency.

To be eligible for this relief individuals must:

  • Be 15-30 years old, and have entered before age 16
  • Have been present in the U.S. for 5 years as of June 15, 2012
  • Have maintained continuous residence
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or multiple minor misdemeanors
  • Be currently in school, graduated or have a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran
  • The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings, as well as to those who apply affirmatively

The announcement recieved a warm reception from advocates for DREAMers.  For instance, American Immigration Lawyers Association President Laura Lichter commented saying:

"This represents a triumph of reason over rhetoric...However, it does not offer a permanent fix for these young people. This announcement creates space for Congress to truly take on this issue and find the desperately needed solutions to our broken immigration system."


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