Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.
(San Francisco, CA, June 15, 2012)—Today, President Obama’s administration announced that it will stop deporting young immigrants who were brought to the United States as children and who have been unable to obtain documentation, despite living in this country for most of their lives.
Under the new policy, President Obama will exercise his legal authority to issue an executive order to stop deportations of these young people and to issue them work permits. The new policy will benefit more than 800,000 undocumented young people who currently live in fear of deportation and are prevented from legally obtaining jobs in the U.S. The executive order will apply to undocumented young people who came to the U.S. before they turned 16 years old, are currently younger than 30, have either earned a high school diploma or a GED, or have served in our country’s military, have remained in the country for at least five continuous years, and have no criminal history.
President Obama has previously expressed his support for the DREAM Act, proposed federal legislation that would allow young people who were brought to this country as children to apply for citizenship. Despite the President’s support, the DREAM Act has stalled in Congress. The policy announced today will allow the Obama administration to accomplish some of the DREAM Act’s goals. While this policy does not provide a path to citizenship, which the President does not have the legal authority to create, it provides these young people with the security of being free from the fear of deportation and permits them to legally seek employment. This is an important and practical first step in the longer path towards much-needed and comprehensive immigration reform.
In an announcement earlier today, the President said this policy “lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”
Statement by NCLR Executive Director Kate Kendell, Esq.:
“This is a monumental development that will change the lives of hundreds of thousands of young people who have already contributed so much to this country and who will now be free from the specter of being brutally removed from their families and homes. Young people who came to this country as children and want to work hard, go to school, defend this country’s constitutional ideals by serving in our military, and contribute to society should be given the opportunity to do so.
This policy shift once again shows that this administration is committed to improving lives and creating opportunity for all people. We applaud the President for extending relief to young people so that they no longer have to fear being torn away from their homes and families, and we join the administration in continuing to support the DREAM Act as part of a humane and comprehensive immigration reform.”
The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the civil and human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their families through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education.