Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, was briefed by USCIS on the process for DREAM Act eligible youth to apply on August 15 for deferred action, a two-year work permit and protections from deportation. The guidelines spell out the fees ($465.00) which will pay for the program in its entirety and include further clarification on who will qualify and not qualify for the review and deferred action. While some details are still being finalized and analyzed, the Congressman said he was confident the process would be clear on August 15, the first day young immigrants can apply. The following is a statement by Rep. Luis Gutierrez:
When a million or more young immigrants begin signing up for deferred action on August 15, it will be hard to hold back the tears. You cannot overstate how important this moment will be in immigrant communities and Latino neighborhoods across the country. The excitement is electric and will not be dampened by House and Senate Republicans threatening to sue the President or take other actions to squelch young people's dreams.
The President and Secretary of Homeland Security are working within their authority to do something sensible that will improve immigration enforcement and public safety. By spending less time and fewer resources chasing high school and college students, the Department of Homeland Security can spend a lot more time and resources actually securing the homeland.
I am still looking at the details, but the guidelines announced today are consistent with what I was expecting. The fees will pay for the program's implementation, so this will be a windfall for the American taxpayer when all is said and done. I know $465 is a significant chunk of money for most families, teenagers, and young adults, but relief from the constant fear of deportation and having your family split apart is priceless.
We will have all the details and will have trained volunteers and will have reached out to other congressional offices by the time we hold our big DREAM Relief Day event in Chicago on August 15.
[9:00 am - 2:00 pm; Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. More info: http://dreamrelief.org/dreamrelief-day-announcement/].
At that event, I will be joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Dick Durbin, community organizations and volunteers and we expect over 1,000 eligible young people to come forward to get informed about the application process and to signup. We will reach out to the more than 500 individuals in Chicago who have already contacted us and are getting the word out in Chicago, with the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the website www.DREAMRelief.org. Applications will not be accepted before August 15, but we will be ready that day to help people prepare and file their applications.
Nationally, we know of some 20 events already being planned and at yesterday's press conference, we had more than 20 Members of Congress pledging to help young immigrants receive clear and accurate information and get them signed up if they qualify.
Until August 15, my message remains the same: Be patient, get as much information as you can from trusted sources like community based organizations and Members of Congress. Don't trust anyone saying they will help you for an exorbitant fee. Stay in school and prepare to show proof of high school graduation or a GED. And help us make this a successful, orderly program. And congratulations.
Two additional points: If you have a serious criminal record, this program is not for you. And if anyone tries to game the system or commit fraud in this process, you will risk prosecution and deportation.
I see these next few months as a stepping stone to sensible, permanent immigration reform and while this is a small and narrowly defined group who can come forward now, how it is conducted will set the tone for measures down the road as we address the disposition of 10-12 million people who live here but are not fully included as members of our society.