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Young illegal immigrants not security risk, may get relief from deportation

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In May, undocumented students from the Houston area publically came out at an event at UHD. Photo Courtesy: FIEL Houston
Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano today announced that effective immediately, certain young people 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 will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” said Secretary Napolitano. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

DHS enforcement policy has migrated to a “risk-based” approach recently where the agency focuses on those individuals who pose the greatest security risk.

The announcement today, reinforces the agency’s commitment to priority removals. The Obama administration has been under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for failure to address immigration reform. According to polls, Hispanics, a key swing vote in many states, are strongly in favor of the DREAM Act, a piece of legislation that would provide legal status for young undocumented immigrants that meet certain requirements and enroll in college or the military.

Under the directive announced this morning, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for deferred action on a case by case basis:

*Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;

*Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;

*Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;

*Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;

*Are not above the age of thirty.

While this guidance takes effect immediately, the Obama administration expects to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days.

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