Originally posted at In These Times.
This week the White House rolled out its “Deferred Action” policy, cracking open the door to legal status for hundreds of thousands of young immigrants without papers. Many see the promise of temporary protection from deportation as a first step toward genuine immigration reform. But the future is unclear: What exactly in it for these these youth, when all they’re being offered is temporary protection?
The Obama administration’s new policy, aimed at pleasing the Latino electorate, initially set off a flurry of celebration among immigrant youth activists who had long pushed for the DREAM Act. But skepticism persists. Legal protection derived from a directive from the Department of Homeland Security is, by nature, tenuous. The fate of the program could depend on who is in the White House next year. And unlike the DREAM Act, the Deferred Action policy allows people to work and study, but does not offer a direct path to long-term legalization.
On the other hand, Deferred Action offers some youth at least a modicum of security and could galvanize the broader movement to resist dysfunctional immigration policies.
Essentially, youth who came to the United States as children are now eligible for a two-year, renewable stay and a work permit, if they meet various criteria including being 30 or younger, possessing a clean criminal record and having arrived before age 16. Read the rest of this entry →