Maria Jones 2012-12-12 01:15:38
We all know how broken our immigration system is… It is frustrating for both sides: US citizens and immigrants. Many US citizens do not want to tolerate illegal immigration, as they believe increased illegal immigration sets back our education and medical systems, and floods our court systems with removal and criminal cases. On the other hand, the majority of immigrants come to the United States seeking a better life for their children, many escaping poverty, violence, and extreme forms of government that we as American citizens may not even be able to imagine. These people hate being considered “illegal.” A lot of people who our system refers to as illegal immigrants did follow the rules by filing necessary paperwork but are forced to wait for 10-20 years in line because of a system backlog; a lot of them did not follow the rules and every day they live their lives under the threat of deportation, but believe the sacrifice is worth the pain as long as they can provide a better life for their children. I can understand both sides of the argument. However, when I come across kids, who were brought by their parents through no fault of their own to the United States as infants, and, those parents, often omitting to inform them as children that they are not citizens of the United States; they go to school, they speak English, they consider the United States their motherland and then suddenly they become “subject to removal” back to the country they happened to be born in, but know nothing about. This is where I get stuck and often lose hope regarding our broken immigration system, but on June 15, 2012 when a memorandum was issued by the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, with the subject “Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion with Respect to Individuals Who Came to the United States as Children” suddenly, many people saw a light at the end of a tunnel and gained back their hope. This new regulation allows certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria to be considered for relief from removal from the country or entered 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. Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a continuous period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding June 15, 2012. The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights. Pursuant to the secretary’s June 15, 2012 memorandum, in order to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must: 1. Have come to the United States when they were under the age of sixteen; 2. Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012; 3. Applicants must currently be 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; 4. 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; 5. An applicant must not have been above the age of thirty on June 15, 2012. Individuals must also complete a background check and, for those individuals who make a request to USCIS and are not subject to a final order of removal, must be 15 years old or older. Under existing regulations, an individual who has been granted deferred action is eligible to receive employment authorization for the period of deferred action, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.” Deferred action can be terminated at any time at the agency’s discretion or renewed by the agency. A lot of readers might confuse this process with permanent residency or even citizenship procedures. The grant of deferred action under this new directive does not provide an individual with permanent lawful status or a pathway to obtaining permanent lawful status or citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the right to permanent lawful status and unfortunately for many, Congress has yet to do so. I know that this new regulation is not a permanent solution to the many problems we have in our broken immigration system; there is still much to be done and changed. However, I strongly believe that the deferred action program is a great gateway towards a brighter future of immigrants and their kids in this country, where kids are not punished for wrong acts of their parents…
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