Today, in a courageous and much needed policy shift, the Obama administration announced that it will stop all deportations of undocumented young people who were brought to the United States as children and have remained in the country for at least five continuous years, are under the age of 30, have either obtained a high school diploma or GED, or have served in our country’s military, and have no prior criminal history.
This is the right thing to do, and will bring an end to the unfair, irrational, and devastating practice of deporting young people who have lived most of their lives in this country and who simply wish to remain with their families and to devote their talents and skills to our national welfare.
In the words of President Obama, “It makes no sense to expel talented young people who for all intents and purposes are Americans, they’ve been raised as Americans, understand themselves to be part of this country, to expel these young people who want to staff our labs or start new businesses or defend our country simply because of the actions of their parents or because of inaction by politicians.”
The President will issue an executive order directing the Department of Homeland Security to stop deporting young people who were brought to this country as children, but who have been unable to obtain documentation. The policy recognizes that these young people “do not present a risk to national security or public safety,” and in fact that deporting them would “remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.” This policy achieves many of the goals of the DREAM Act, proposed federal legislation that would permit young adults who were brought to this country as children to apply for citizenship. While that legislation has been stalled, the administration has endorsed it and called for its inclusion as a part of a broader immigration policy reform. Today’s policy shift does not provide a path to citizenship, which the President does not have the legal authority to do. But it will make it possible for undocumented young people who were brought here many years ago by parents seeking a better life and future for them to stop fearing deportation and legally secure employment in the U.S.
This new policy will provide crucial relief for young people, including countless LGBTQ youth, who simply want the opportunity to work hard and make a life in the country they have called home since their youth. Moreover, it is one more example of how the administration is committed to increasing opportunities for success for all people and extending the promise of America to all those who are willing to work for it.