US Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Assemblyman Angel Fuentes yesterday hosted a DREAM Relief Information Session at the Camden City Council Chambers in City Hall. Dreamers were invited to learn how to apply for President Obama's DREAM Deferred Action program, which allows qualifying undocumented youth to obtain work permits to continue learning and working in the United States without fear of deportation. The Department of Homeland Security announced yesterday it has begun to approve some of the 72,000 applications it has received in the three weeks since the program started receiving applications.
"The time has come to harness and develop the talent that all of our young people have to offer," said Senator Menendez. "The time has come to allow thousands of young men and women who are kept from enrolling at colleges and universities to finally achieve their full potential, ultimately being full participants in American life and full contributors to the American economy through their ingenuity, skills, and hard work. That's what the DREAM Act has always been about. I invite all of those that haven't done so already to learn about the program and begin their applications today."
"The DREAM Act allows those people who have lived in this country most of their lives to finally access the programs and opportunities that they have earned," said Assemblyman Fuentes. "These individuals are students, graduating at the top of their class who are unable to access financial aid or other benefits. They are veterans who have laid their lives on the lines in defense of a country that is their home in heart if not in name. They are upstanding citizens this country should be proud to call ours. I encourage those members of our community who feel that they will be positively affected by this initiative to come out and take advantage of these resources."
On June 15, President Obama announced a process for Dream Act youth to apply for deferred action. To apply, the individual must submit a form that is available at www.uscis.gov. To qualify, the individual must:
- Be present in the U.S. as of June 15, 2012 in an undocumented status;
- Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years;
- Be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Have come to the U.S. before the age of 16;
- Be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have a GED, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard; and
- Not have been convicted of a felony or certain other criminal offenses.
Senator Menendez urges the community to be wary of non-lawyers offering fee-based services in connection with this announcement. For more information about this type of scam, please visit: www.uscis.gov/avoidscams.
Additional information regarding deferred action for young people can be found at the Department of Homeland Security's website, Senator Menendez's website, the "We Own the Dream" Online Tool at www.weownthedream.org or by contacting the New Jersey DREAM Act Coalition.