This morning, the Obama administration announced that it would stop deporting and begin granting work permits to students and young people.
Under the plan, students and young people will be spared deportation if they were brought to the United States before the age of 16 and are younger than 30 as of today; they’ve been in the country for at least five years continuously; have no criminal history; and have graduated from a U.S. high school, earned a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the military. The work permits will be good for two years, with no limits on how many times they may be renewed.
This is a big victory for DREAMers, who have been building a growing and brave movement of coming out as undocumented and unafraid to fight for their right to stay in this country. The opportunity for young people to finally be able to live their lives without fear of separation from their families, friends, and for many, the only place they realistically call home, is finally a reality, and that is a big deal.
However, this is certainly not the end. The guidance provides no path to citizenship. Therefore, Congress must follow the Administration lead and pass the DREAM Act.
There is a real human toll to the broken immigration system. Educational attainment is one way that Latinas can have access to information, resources, and services that will help them make informed and autonomous decisions. In short, the DREAM Act would allow youth who have grown up in the United States to step out of the shadows, become citizens, pursue education, and accomplish their goals.
The DREAM Act has a tough road to passage even though it has a wide band of support from the business community, the labor community, military leaders, teachers, principals, state and local government officials, and community leaders. Passage of the DREAM Act would be a tremendous accomplishment for the millions of Latinas that we represent. That’s why we fight for the equality, dignity, and human rights of immigrant women. NLIRH will also continue to work with the Administration and lawmakers to strengthen and support this bill.
Also, any day, the Supreme Court is expected to issue a decision on one of the most extreme anti-immigrant laws in the country. This is a reminder that until we have comprehensive reform, many people in our community remain precariously vulnerable to our flawed immigration policy and enforcement mechanisms.
The fight is not over. We have so much work left to do, but we cannot underestimate the brave actions of the DREAMers and this this victory. We owe a lot to the brave young undocumented folks who risked so much for social justice. We are not quite there yet, but we are closer. Thank you, DREAMers!
For more information about NLIRH’s work to advance the rights of immigrant women or our leadership on the National Coalition for Immigrant Women’s Rights, please visit the NCIWR website.