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Deferred Action Process for Certain Young People: Smart and Sensible Immigration Policy

This new policy is the latest in a series of steps the Department of Homeland Security has taken to expand the use of prosecutorial discretion designed to ensure that the immigration enforcement system is not clogged with low priority cases
President Barack Obama delivers remarks in the Rose Garden of the White House (June 15, 2012)

President Barack Obama delivers remarks on the Department of Homeland Security’s immigration announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, June 15, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

Secretary Janet Napolitano’s announcement this morning reaffirms President Obama’s commitment to smart and sensible immigration policies that prioritize immigration enforcement toward individuals who pose a threat to public safety. Young deserving people who are Americans in every way but on paper are not this Administration’s priority for removal. These young people came to this country as children. As the President has said many times, it makes no sense to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. They have become productive members in our communities. They have grown up swearing allegiance to our flag. Yet they live in the shadows of America, without the possibility to realize their dreams.

This new policy is the latest in a series of steps the Department of Homeland Security has taken to improve upon the use of prosecutorial discretion. The point of this strategy is to ensure that our immigration enforcement can focus on high-priority individuals instead of clogging the system with low priority cases. The young immigrants who will be eligible under this policy are earnest, productive young people ready to contribute back to America in the fullest possible sense.

Specifically, Secretary Napolitano has directed DHS sub-agencies to implement this policy, under which eligible young individuals will be considered for deferred action on a case-by-case basis. To read the details of this policy, click here.

Already, leaders throughout the United States are expressing their support for this policy.

  • Rev. Gabriel Salguero, President of The National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) stated: “We believe the DHS’s policy that rewards hard working young people sets the right tone. Evangelicals everywhere affirm that young immigrants can and should be allowed to contribute to our nation’s well-being.”
  • Labor groups, too, are raising their voice in support: AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated: “the AFL-CIO commends the Administration for its courage and leadership in taking an important step towards a more just America”. “This makes common sense because it is fiscally responsible and widely supported.” stated a release by the labor union Service Employees International (SEIU). “Because it is also about our nation’s future economic and national security,” the SEIU release went on to say.
  • Marielena Hincapie, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, stated: “This is a momentous day. President Obama is showing the nation his true capacity to lead by taking 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… Beginning today, these young people finally will be able to use their education and drive to help their friends, family and community prosper.”
  • Terry O’Sullivan, General President of LIUNA – the Laborers’ International Union of North America -- said in a statement “It is a matter of fairness and the principles for which our nation stands,” adding, “we call on Congress to overcome its partisan blockage of both the full Dream Act and the long-term solution to immigration issues, which is adoption of comprehensive immigration reform.”

All of this is to say that supporting immigrant young people is smart policy. It makes sense for our communities, families, and schools. This policy makes sense for America.