(WASHINGTON)—Today, House Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Jr. (D-Mich.) praised the policy announced by Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano that grants immigration officials the discretion to defer deportation action against certain young undocumented immigrants. These same individuals would also be allowed to apply for work permits. Only individuals who meet certain criteria would be eligible for consideration under the announced policy. Eligible individuals must show that they came to the U.S. as minors under the age of 16; lived here continuously for at least 5 years; are under the age of 30; are currently enrolled in school, graduated from high school or received an equivalent degree, or served in the military; and have clean criminal records and pose no threat to national security or public safety.
John Conyers, Jr.
“I applaud President Obama and Secretary Napolitano for their courageous leadership in making today’s announcement. Thousands of undocumented young people, many of whom are students or military veterans, are forced to live in the shadows because they were brought here as minor children. They are productive members of society who wish nothing more than to contribute to this country – the only one they have ever really known.
“We call them DREAMers, based on proposed legislation—the DREAM Act—that enjoys the overwhelming support of Americans in poll after poll, was passed by the House of Representatives in 2010, and which would easily receive a majority in the Senate, if put to a vote. But more than the name of the bill, it is a fitting way to refer to these young immigrants because their greatest wish is to have the opportunity to realize the American dream.
“This announcement builds on prior Administration efforts to prioritize enforcement efforts on the removal of dangerous criminals over DREAM Act students and others who pose no threat to our country. Due to limited resources, the Department of Homeland Security must use its prosecutorial discretion authority under current law to set enforcement priorities, and it makes no sense to waste them on the detention and deportation of innocent young people. The exercise of prosecutorial discretion on a case-by-case basis is a time-honored law enforcement practice that has been used for humanitarian immigration purposes by every Administration in recent memory. Under the new policy, eligible young people will be afforded temporary protection but not a path to citizenship or even permanent green cards. A real and lasting solution for them and millions of other immigrants requires Congressional action.
“Unfortunately, immigration is an issue where elected officials often choose to stoke nativist fears, and we have seen this manifest itself over and over again with mean-spirited state and local laws. Our immigration system is broken, and amidst today’s polarized political environment, the prospects for reform appear dim. But with this announcement, President Obama has chosen reason, compassion, and hope over fear. I am proud to stand with the president and the DREAMers today, and I will continue the fight for immigrants’ rights.”
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