Statement by HIAS Pennsylvania on New Policy to Let Immigrant Youth Come Out From the Shadows

HIAS Pennsylvania welcomes the announcement today, June 15, 2012, by the Obama administration that it will stop deporting immigrant youth who arrived in the U.S. before they were 16, are under the age of 30, have lived in the U.S. for five years, and are in high school or have completed high school and have not been convicted of crimes and are not a danger to public safety.

Many of these youth arrived in the U.S. as infants and are Americans in every sense except for their status.  Among them are valedictorians, law students, essential workers, and individuals in critical positions watching our children and helping our elderly.   These youth will be given “deferred action” which will allow them to work and come out of the shadows, obtain proper identification, including a driver’s license, in two year intervals.  It does not, however, provide a pathway to permanent legal status or citizenship.  Only Congress, through passing the Dream Act, can provide these youth a means to become fully integrated into American society.  For 10 years, immigrant youth, joined by many allies including scores of university presidents, former Secretary of State Colin Powell, faith, business and labor leaders have worked to pass the Dream Act. Hundreds of young immigrant activists traveled to Washington in December, 2010 to press for the passage of the Dream Act and although it passed in the Senate and received a majority vote in the House, (55-41) it failed to advance because 60 votes in the House were required to move it forward.   The new Obama policy is a step in the right direction.  It will help many immigrant youth in Pennsylvania continue their education, support their families and contribute to our region.  We will all benefit.

HIAS Pennsylvania has the only Immigrant Youth Advocacy Project in Pennsylvania staffed by a full-time attorney and we will provide as much outreach, education and direct representation as resources permit to ensure youth receive qualified, competent representation. 

Read today’s memorandum issued by Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security, setting forth this new policy.  We will post further policy updates on our website.

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