Pursuant to executive order signed by President Obama, the Department of Homeland Security has announced this week that it will defer any administrative action or deportation proceedings against certain eligible immigrants who arrived in this country as children.
It makes no sense to expel talented young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses and contribute to our country simply because of the actions of their parents, the president reportedly said.
DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano noted that deferred action provides only a temporary reprieve against deportation, enabling young people to finish their educations and get work in the U.S. while Congress is still working on a legislative solution for the perplexing problem of how to deal with illegal immigrants who were brought here as children by their parents.
To be eligible for deferred action status, a qualified individual must:
- Be between the ages of 15 and 30 years old;
- Have entered the country prior to 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 one serious crime or multiple minor crimes (as specified by administrative regulation or interpretation); and
- Be currently enrolled in or graduated from high school, have a GED or be enlisted in the U.S. armed services.
According to DHS estimates, the deferred action status could apply to more than 800,000 people in the U.S. who might one day be covered by a legislative exemption from penalties normally applied to immigration law violators.
The DREAM Act, which would offer such an exemption under federal law, passed the U.S. House of Representatives and received a majority of votes in the Senate, but could not muster the 60 votes required to break a Senate filibuster.
Until Congress Acts, the deferred action program offers the breathing room needed to ensure that no more young lives are jeopardized through senseless deportation, said Napolitano.
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