On Friday, June 15th, President Obama announced an encouraging new policy that will grant relief from deportations for undocumented youth who are known as DREAMers. These young immigrants grew up in United States and dream of using their education and skills to contribute to society. They are American in all ways except for one—paperwork—but last week’s announcement was a long-awaited step toward allowing them to continue their education and contribute to their communities without the fear of being separated from the family and community they love.
As reported in the Omaha World-Herald and the Lincoln Journal Star, this new policy provides a measure of hope for young Nebraskans like Juan Gallegos and Quetzalli Pliego, who have been caught in limbo and unable to fully contribute their talents due to our outdated and unproductive federal immigration policy. Juan earned private scholarships to the University of Nebraska-Kearney and started his own small business in graphic and website design, but faced obstacles to building the business due to his immigration status. Now he says, “I can see that maybe one day I can create jobs for others who need them.”
Another young Nebraskan, Quetzalli, earned a bachelor’s degree in 2010 with a focus on legal studies, but instead of applying her skills to the legal field is helping her mother clean homes because she lacks work authorization.
We all will reap the benefits of this policy change because it will enable Juan, Quetzalli, and our country’s 800,000 DREAMers to fully realize their potential and help their communities prosper.
The announced policy stops deportations of DREAMers and provides them the opportunity to apply for work permits that are renewable every two years. DREAMers qualify for the new policy if they:
- are 30 years old or younger
- came to the United States under the age of 16
- lived here for the last five years and were in the U.S. on June 15, 2012
- are currently in school, graduated from high school or have a GED, or have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard of the United States
- have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors not all stemming from the same incident.
The hard work and courage of DREAMers and community allies produced this positive first step. However, the President’s new policy provides only temporary relief and does not provide a means to apply for permanent residency or citizenship.
Therefore, we urge Congress to pass the DREAM Act, a bill first introduced more than a decade ago and supported by a majority of Americans that would create a path to citizenship for immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children, graduated from high school, and attended college or served in the military. Passing this important and common-sense legislation will result in a positive and productive solution for us all.
Take a moment today to ask Congress take the next critical step. Call your senators and your representative and urge them to pass the DREAM Act:
Senator Ben Nelson
Senator Mike Johanns
Representative Jeff Fortenberry (NE 1)
Representative Lee Terry (NE 2)
Representative Adrian Smith (NE 3)
Please also take a moment to thank the President for this decision that is good for the country