Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) applauded the actions of President Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano in announcing a major initiative to protect young undocumented immigrants raised in the United States from being deported. The policy, contained in a memo by Secretary Napolitano, will give "deferred action," a form of deportation relief and work authorization, to those who are already in deportation proceedings and to those who go through a process to apply affirmatively for relief. They will be granted a two-year deferred action if they meet certain criteria.
"I applaud today's decision by President Obama," said Congresswoman Lee. "Young people who have been trained and educated in the United States should be allowed to remain in this country and be rewarded for their contributions to our society. They are integral to America's next generation of leadership and innovation, and it is a moral imperative to keep their families together by making comprehensive immigration reform a top priority in Congress."
Legislation to provide a permanent protection to young undocumented students has been blocked in the U.S. Senate. The bill, known as the DREAM Act, would provide a path to citizenship for illegal immigrant children who go to college or join the military. President Obama's announcement today is a temporary policy that will apply to nearly 800,000 immigrants students who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria, such as arriving in the U.S. before their sixteenth birthday and graduating from an American high school, serving in the military, or getting admitted to an institution of higher education.
"While President Obama's announcement is a step in the right direction, this is not a permanent solution or a substitution for Congressional action," said Congresswoman Lee. "I will continue to fight for, and urge my colleagues to pass, the DREAM Act so that we can provide these young people who came to America and excelled, the full range of opportunities they have earned. Today's announcement underscores the need to pass comprehensive immigration reform."