The Obama administration gave many undocumented youth across the nation hope last Friday when he made an executive decision to protect them from deportation. These youths, which account for at least 800,000 residents across the country, will be able to apply for “deferred action,” whether or not they are in deportation proceedings, which would enable them to live and work legally in the United States.
This, however, does not promise residency or citizenship and in fact, is a plan that has been implemented previously in different ways.
Monday afternoon saw chief strategy executive for the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, Joshua Hoyt and Congressman Luis V. Gutierrez speak to the media acknowledging the work that has been put forth by undocumented youth, activists and supporters.
“We have 800,000 people we are celebrating here today,” he said. “What it demonstrates is if you’re forceful, if you’re tenacious, if you’re fighting for justice, you can win and we won last Friday.”
In order to claim deferred action, the undocumented youth must have come to the U.S. before 16 years of age, must be under the age of 30 when applying, must have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; must currently be in school, have received a high school diploma or GED or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces or Coast Guard; they must not have been convicted of a felony or a “significant misdemeanor.”
This deferred action lasts two years and is renewable as long as President Obama remains president. It will allow those who get deferred action to apply for a work permit and drivers license.
As warnings, both Hoyt and Gutierrez both warned against fraud. “There are going to be those in our community who are going to want to exploit and take advantage of this situation,” said Gutierrez. “The regulations and forms will be issued in approximately 60 days. I assure you that we are well capacitated to get you to the last part of the road to get a work permit.”
Many say that this executive decision was the president’s ploy to get the Latino vote. Gutierrez claimed that as long as thousands of youth come forth to apply for this deferred action plan, the president will be acknowledged for his actions.
“If he did it for political reasons,” said Gutierrez, “at least something good is coming out of it.”
DREAM Act supporters have been fighting for a path to citizenship. Though this might be a positive step, the question of the end result still remains.