Tens of Thousands Apply for Deferred Action Program
Roughly 82,000 undocumented youth have applied for deferred action in the first month of the new Department of Homeland Security directive, which President Obama announced earlier this year to de-prioritize the deportation of eligible undocumented youth.
The program would grant DREAM-eligible undocumented youth two-year stays and work authorization, so they can earn a living and an education without the threat of deportation looming. To be eligible, a young person must be pursuing a four-year college degree or serving in the United States military, have a clean criminal record, have been brought to the United States before the age of 16, and be younger than 30.
An estimated 1.2 million undocumented immigrants are eligible for the program, and though the number who have applied only represent a small sliver—about 7 percent—of DREAM-eligible youth, immigrant rights advocates are confident that when families receive more information about the program from trusted community stakeholders, more young immigrants will be willing to apply.
President Obama announced the new directive in June, saying at the time:
"I believe that it’s the right thing to do because I’ve been with groups of young people who work so hard and speak with so much heart about what’s best in America, even though I knew some of them must have lived under the fear of deportation. I know some have come forward, at great risks to themselves and their futures, in hopes it would spur the rest of us to live up to our own most cherished values. And I’ve seen the stories of Americans in schools and churches and communities across the country who stood up for them and rallied behind them, and pushed us to give them a better path and freedom from fear—because we are a better nation than one that expels innocent young kids."
President Obama supports the DREAM Act, which would have provided a path to citizenship for some young undocumented immigrants, which stalled in Congress in December 2010.
Sydney Hofferth is a Communications Intern for Campus Progress. You can follow her on twitter at @squidhoff10.
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