Published by the Hispanic Institute of Social Issues in Phoenix, Arizona
|HISTORY IS ABOUT
Chandler, Arizona - On June 15, 2012, President Barack Obama in a welcome display of
political courage, announced that he had ordered the Department of Homeland Security
(DHS) to implement a system to grant "Deferred Action” to young immigrants who have
become known so eloquently as the "Dreamers."
This means that DHS including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S.
Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) are instructed to not take removal action
against those who qualify for Deferred Actions. This is a step in the right direction.
Though his pronouncement, President Obama restored a basic and sacred tenant of U.S.
society: WE DO NOT UNJUSTLY PUNISH THE INNOCENT, particularly innocent children for the
actions of their parents and other adults around them. Although this is not the
comprehensive immigration reform we so desperately need, it is a positive move.
Eligibility for Deferred Action as described under the President's directive is straight forward.
To qualify, applicants must:
- have arrived in the U.S. before age 16;
- have not reached their 31st birthday;
- have resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012 (date of
- have not been convicted of a felony, multiple misdemeanors or 'significant'
misdemeanors (this is particularly a troublesome aspect because very little clarification
information is available at this time...stay tuned!)
- be currently in school, graduated from high school, completed their GED or discharged
from the armed services.
Without a doubt, Congress has failed the Dreamer year after year, by failing to find common
ground in the immensely complicated immigration debate. We expect those we elect to
Congress to serve our country's increasingly diverse interests and to solve the nation's
difficult immigration problems honorably. This includes addressing the plight of the estimated
800,000 to 1,000,000 immigrant kids who lacked the specific intent to break the law when
they were brought to the U.S. and to stop the practice of flooding our already overwhelmed
immigration courts with placing low priority individuals whose only "crime" was not to be born
here into removal proceedings. With respect to our Dreamers, Congress has failed them
In a bold move, President Obama made crystal clear that he would no longer allow innocent
kids to be used as political pawns and victims of a chronically broken immigration system.
Simply put. President Obama acted while many others in Washington, DC have stood by and
done nothing more than cry "amnesty" every time an immigrant kid seeks to engage or
seeks to contribute. Sadly, crying "amnesty" means nothing more than "We give up. We
have no ideas." The American people deserve much more.
President Obama's plan cannot possibly be viewed as amnesty which implies "something for
nothing." Deferred Action will only be granted to those who meet its strict requirements for
eligibility. President Obama in good conscience believed that something drastic had to be
done. As a result, all of us will now begin to reap the benefits of the incredible skills and
talents that the Dreamer brings to his or her community and our great nation; a nation built
upon the backs of hard-working immigrants for generations.
To those who scream "amnesty," this tired mantra of "no ideas" must be put to sleep once
and for all. Deferred Action is not amnesty. It is a well established and wholly underused
enforcement mechanism that does not give these young people lawful status. It does not
bestow preferential treatment, but rather it signals an aggressive and long overdue re-
shifting of removal priorities. A grant of Deferred Actions in this context will not lead to a U.S.
lawful permanent residence or U.S. citizenship. It will not lead to a permanent right to remain
in the U.S. However, in lieu of a reasonable and comprehensive approach to immigration
reform, Deferred Action seeks to keep families together and young kids and adults in the
only "home" they have ever known.
The perception that Deferred Action will only benefit Mexican nationals brought to the U.S as
children is incorrect and must be dispelled. Deferred Action is also available to for example,
the young German, French, Swedish, Australian, Irish, _____, ______, _____ youngster who
entered the U.S. with or without their parents and somehow have become out of status in
their pursuit of the American dream. Fill in the blanks any way you want... the point is this:
immigrant kids of ALL races and ethnic backgrounds will now be able to step forward to
engage, contribute and Dream. We all win.
Although qualified persons granted Deferred Action will not be removed or subjected to
removal proceedings, it does not forgive any past periods of unlawful presence in the U.S.,
nor will it protect them from the immigration consequences of committing crimes while in the
U.S. In fact, criminal activity may serve to disqualify the individual from Deferred Action or
extensions. A grant of Deferred Actions will serve as a strong incentive to act responsibly in
word and in deed. We all win.
With Deferred Action, Dreamers under currently regulations would be able to apply for two-
year employment authorization document (EAD). With an EAD, they can apply for a social
security number, a driver's license, and most importantly, the ability to further their
education. In turn, this will rise up their families and communities through knowledge,
advancement and achievement. These are all important tools to engage in and contribute to
U.S. society, one that is thirsting for their immense talents. This is all these young people
have ever asked for despite being continually punished and beat down for a 'crime' they
never committed. I commend President Obama for this bold measure to help stop the
demonization of the Dreamer. Again, we all win.
Let's embrace this opportunity, educate ourselves and get ready to witness the magnificent
flight of the DREAMER.
Gerald E. Burns is an Attorney at Law, and former Chair, Arizona Chapter, American Immigration
Lawyers Assoc. (AILA) Chandler, Arizona.
Burns Law Office, P.L.C. | Immigration and Nationality Law Firm
68 W. Buffalo St., Suite 210, Chandler, AZ 85225 | Tel. 480.812.8713 | E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
|By Gerald Burns | OP-ED | June 19, 2012
Founded in 2002
Publihed by the Hispanic Institute of Social Issues
|Related Video: DREAM Act supporters protest against Mitt Romney in Mesa, Arizona
|Engage, Contribute... Dream
To qualify for the Deferred Action Process, applicants must be currently in school,
graduated from high school, completed their GED or discharged from the armed
services, among other requirements. Photo by Eduardo Barraza | Barriozona Magazine