A Step in the Right Direction – Deferring Deportation for Young “Americans”

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Today, marks an interesting twist on the debate about undocumented immigration. In June, President Barack Obama announced that the Immigration and Customs Services would offer young undocumented women and men the opportunity to gain temporary legal status. Titled,  “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” this process will first give out two-year worker’s permits to qualified individuals. Based on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s website, here are the requirements that an immigrant must meet to apply:

You may request consideration of deferred action for childhood arrivals if you:

  1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  2. Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
  3. Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;  
  4. Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
  5. Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
  6. Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
  7. Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

This is the first significant change to U.S. immigration policy, which mirrors the long struggle to pass the Dream Act.  It also represents an important step in integrating a growing young Latino population who have lived their whole lives in the United States. In fact, many of those who will apply will have graduated from an American High School and will be able to go to work and possibly college for the first time “legally.” The only drawback is that it is not a permanent solution to the problem. Again, these individuals will have to continue to deal with the drudgery of U.S. bureaucracy and it does not guarantee permanent citizen status.  It also does not address the eradication of state-legislated policies that have been more vengeful on undocumented immigrants. However, it does provide a least an access point to citizenship without having individuals deported in hopes of returning 10 to 15 years later.

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About lippardcd

Assistant Professor of Sociology at Appalachian State University.
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