The United We Dream Network had scheduled a “Right to Dream” community mobilization for 8:30 on Friday, but organizers awoke to learn that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it would cease deportations of eligible undocumented student immigrants and even grant them the opportunity to apply for work authorization.
“We’re very excited, but we’re concerned about the implementation of the entire program,” said Justino Mora, a UCLA political science student and leader of the California Dream Network. “We know this is only temporary and just one step in the right direction. We need to put more pressure on Congress to do something more comprehensive. We want them to see this as a civil and human rights issue.”
Mora pointed out the group had picked Friday, June 15 for their protest because it was the 30th year anniversary of the Plyler v Doe Supreme Court decision, which “struck down a California statute denying undocumented immigrants the right to an affordable K-12 education.”
Councilwoman Jan Perry, who’s district has a large immigrant and undocumented population, immediately issued a statement on the immigration policy change:
“For far too long our outdated immigration laws have divided families and punished young people by ripping them away from the country, family, and community that they have grown up with and loved.” Perry stated the “announcement is an incredible step in the right direction and I applaud our President for moving us forward on immigration reform.”
The action is not a new law. It’s an immigration policy change that implements an existing provision of immigration law called “deferred action” through prosecutorial discretion. This basically means that DHS will evaluate each case and determine whether a person is eligible, under the established guidelines, to remain in the country for a period of two years, suspending deportation proceedings.
“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,” said President Obama shortly after the DHS announced the immigration policy change.
Not all undocumented students will benefit. In order to be eligible for deferred action, the person must:
Have come to the United States before the age of 16;
Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years before June 15, 2012 and currently live in the country;
Be currently in school, have graduated from high school, gotten a GED, or have been honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
Not be above the age of 30.