News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. June 15, 2012: On Thursday, June 14th I wrote my column asking the President to please stand up for the many young DREAMERS, those young undocumented in the country, without hope. Well as the saying goes – be careful what you ask as dreams do come through. On Friday morning, June 15th, I woke up to the exhilarating news that the President had answered the call of so many like myself and simply bypassed Congress and pushed his version of the DREAM Act.
With tears in my eyes I welcomed the news on behalf of so many in the shadows, including 24-year-old Veronica Gomez and 23-year-old Javier Hernandez, the two undocumented immigrant students who bravely stepped forward and took action last week, occupying President Obama’s Denver campaign office and beginning a hunger strike that effectively closed the office to visitors and volunteers. I know they must be celebrating along with the over 800,000 who will benefit from this decision.
As the Department of Homeland Security announced on Friday, “effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.”
And more of all, “those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.”
To qualify, these youth must have come to the United States under the age of sixteen; have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum; are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are 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 and are not above the age of thirty.
Only individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding June 15, 2012.
Note, however, that deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will begin implementation of the new change within sixty days.
For more information on the new policy persons can visit the USCIS’s website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE’s website (at www.ice.gov), or DHS’s website (at www.dhs.gov).
Beginning Monday, June 18th, individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.
For individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria and have been offered an exercise of discretion as part of ICE’s ongoing case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer them deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
It’s the best decision yet of the Obama administration. Way to go Mr. President; the November election is now truly yours – Yes it is! This definitely was the moment of your administration for me and truly a Dream we can believe in. As you so succinctly put it: “It’s the right thing to do.”
The writer is founder of NewsAmericasNow, CaribPR Wire and Hard Beat Communications.