Today the Obama Administration announced a new policy that will make certain undocumented youth eligible for renewable two-year deferred action on removal proceedings or deportation from the United States. Those youth who demonstrate eligibility for this prosecutorial discretion will also be eligible for work permits. The Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (AALDEF) supports this important action that will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of undocumented youth, and which highlights the reality that millions of undocumented people form the economic backbone of this country.
The administration’s action, effective immediately, will apply to those who are currently under 30 years old, who arrived in the country before they turned 16, have lived in the U.S. for five years, and have earned a high school diploma or remained in school.
AALDEF has been collaborating with Asian American DREAM Act-eligible youth (DREAMers) in New York and New Jersey to create a youth group to support Asian American DREAMers and to assist their organizing for a just path toward legalization and equal access to education. One of the frustrations most frequently expressed by the youth, many of whom were brought to the United States as children by their parents, has been their inability to work legally despite graduating with honors from high school and college. Consequently they are subject to many of the same abuses in the workplace suffered by millions of other undocumented immigrants.
While the new action stops deportations, it does not offer a path to citizenship, which is critical for undocumented youth.
“We are inspired by the DREAMers, who have taken a stand for justice and led the way for the important actions taken today by President Obama,” said AALDEF Executive Director Margaret Fung.
In the coming months, through the efforts of the youth group, AALDEF will work with undocumented youth to seek deferred action status or other available relief.
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