The Department of Homeland Security began accepting applications on Wednesday of this week for a new program that afford young undocumented immigrants the temporary right to live and work in the United States without the threat of deportation. As we discussed in the last post, the program grants "deferred action" permits to qualifying applicants who were brought to the United States as children.
In a statement released this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said that the program will allow immigration officials to focus on deporting individuals who pose a threat to society instead of young immigrants who wish to live and work in the United States. Reid called the program "smart policy" and said it will effectively make our country more secure while allowing young immigrants to live without the fear of deportation.
The program is being described as an alternative to the DREAM Act, which has stalled in Congress for several years now. The DREAM Act promised to give young, hopeful immigrants similar rights to live and work in the United States. President Obama announced the new program two months ago, making it clear that it is only a temporary solution that does not provide a pathway to citizenship.
Even so, a spokesperson for an immigrant advocacy group called the National Alliance of Latin American and Caribbean Communities said that young people who are currently in the country illegally should apply for the program "with the benefit of experienced legal advice." She called the program "the largest immigration benefit application process since the 1986 immigration reform law."
Source: Washington Post, "Young illegal immigrants begin applying for relief from deportation," Steve Hendrix, Aug. 15, 2012