Deferred Action for DREAMers

June 15, 2012

Obama Delivers for DREAMers and for Our Country

New Policy Will Allow DREAMers to Contribute Fully to Their Communities

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration today announced that it would grant relief to undocumented youth who came to the United States under the age of 16, have grown up here, are currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or the Armed Forces of the United States, and have not been convicted of a felony offense, multiple misdemeanors, or a significant misdemeanor offense. This announcement directs Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officers to grant deferred action to DREAM Act-eligible youth currently in deportation proceedings. Those not in deportation proceedings will be allowed to apply for deferred action status, which will be valid for two years and may be renewable. Below is a statement from Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center:

“Today is a momentous day. President Obama took the bold and courageous step to remove the fear of deportation and provide DREAMers with the legal means to contribute their full potential to society. The Obama administration has rightly recognized that our draconian immigration laws have pushed young Americans who lack the paperwork to prove their patriotism to the sidelines of society. Beginning today, these young people finally will be able to use their education and drive to help their friends, family, and community prosper. The administration has shown that it believes in the power of the right to dream, and has given many young people the legal tools they need to begin to turn their professional and societal dreams into reality.

“This is a hard-won victory that comes after years of immigrant youth–led sacrifices, actions, creative organizing, and steadfast advocacy. DREAMers have worked hard to help the administration and the American public understand the situation these young Americans-at-heart face. For those who will be granted relief under the administration’s new policy, America is their one and only home. This policy change will make a significant difference in DREAMers’ lives and America will also reap the benefits of their many contributions.

“We will work with the administration to ensure that this new policy is implemented swiftly, vigorously, and uniformly across the country. This announcement provides real and much-needed relief now, but it is not enough. President Obama cannot provide these youth with the path to citizenship, which would allow DREAMers to participate in all sectors of civil society. We therefore renew our calls to Congress to pass the DREAM Act, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since its introduction in 2001. We will continue to advocate and organize alongside DREAMers and leaders of all ages until Congress does its part in delivering a permanent solution for DREAMers and their families. Until then, we thank President Obama for relieving some of the pain in our communities and offering hope for our country.”

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Since the first introduction of the DREAM Act in 2001, the National Immigration Law Center has played a leading role in the DREAM movement. In 2008, NILC became the anchor organization for the United We Dream Network, which is the largest immigrant youth–led organization working to obtain a path to citizenship and access to higher education for undocumented immigrant youth in the nation.