On Wednesday, Sept. 5, an estimated 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants may apply for the temporary right to live and work openly in the United States without fear of deportation.
This new initiative by the Obama administration in immigration policy is the first in decades
The legislation, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will allow for certain documents to be accepted as proof of continuous residency, including tax receipts, bank records, and church confirmation and other religious records. Although this is a stride in the positive direction for many immigrants to gain residency, it still does not provide citizenship.
San Antonio Immigrant Youth Movement (SAIYM) treasurer and UTSA student, William Wise, states how important citizenship eligibility for immigrant youth really is. “I know many students that want to be in the military, and even though Deferred Action is great, it won’t allow them to be in the military. DREAM Act would fix that. It would allow Dreamers easier access to higher education, and that’s very important.”
It’s been two months since Obama announced his support for the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors or ‘DREAM’ act. This legislation has garnered some bipartisan support over the years. The program is open to immigrants, ages 15 to 31, and is designed to lift the cloud of deportation over children who were brought to the US before they were 16, have been in the country for five years, and have no criminal record. The DREAM Act has been debated 24 times since 2001 but has never passed Congress. Last Tuesday, Aug. 28, officials confirmed that those enrolled in GED programs and certain training programs will also qualify, broadening the program’s potential reach.
Earlier this year, President Obama declared in his executive order that his administration would take action on its own to implement the goals of the DREAM Act without relying on legislation from Congress. This has caused an upheaval in the political sphere.
The Department of Homeland Security, under a directive from President Obama, has stopped deporting undocumented immigrants who would have qualified for the DREAM Act, but that policy does not provide a path to citizenship. The administration said the change in policy will affect as many as 800,000 immigrants. As a result, 10 federal immigration officials filed suit on Aug. 15, asking a US district judge in Dallas to block the Department of Homeland Security from implementing President Obama’s decision to give special immigration status to some 1.7 million children of illegal immigrants.
The suit charges that the Dream Act is not constitutional because it was issued without congressional authorization. It says the agency action is forcing immigration agents in the field to either enforce federal law as passed by Congress or abide by the administration’s new immigration policies and priorities. “We need it; we haven’t found a true way to fix the problem. This is the only true way to find a solution for undocumented students” says Wise.
Of the 10 agents who filed the lawsuit, seven are posted in Texas, one is in California, one in Delaware, and one in Utah. Two of the immigration agents are deportation officers and eight are enforcement officers.
SAIYM will now become a student organization on campus for students who are eligible for Deferred Action to have easier access to the documents and support. “Having this organization on campus will have many benefits, one of them being that students are so busy with their schoolwork, an organization that is close by will allow students to be active in the larger movement,” says Wise.