It’s not the DREAM Act, but the Obama administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program went into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 16, allowing unauthorized immigrants who meet certain requirments and have no criminal record to apply for temporary protection from deportation.
Under the program, which was announced on June 15 by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, registered immigrants will have a two-year deferment from deportation and can be granted work visas. The program is not, however, a path toward permanent residency in the United States.
On Wednesday, thousands lined up to submit the $465 applications to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that the program will affect some 1.7 million people.
“[A]s many as 950,000 may be immediately eligible for deportation relief and another 770,000 may be eligible in the future,” the Center states in a press release. “Not all unauthorized immigrants ages 30 and under are eligible for deportation relief. Some 2.7 million are ineligible because they arrived in the U.S. at age 16 or later or have not been in the U.S. for five years or more–the program’s cutoff residency requirement.” Application documents are available online at www.USCIS.gov/childhoodarrivals.
The Obama administration tried to pass the DREAM Act a year ago and had gotten it through a House vote before the Senate rejected it.
Passing the DREAM Act “is not only the right thing to do for talented young people who seek to serve a country they know as their own, it is the right thing for the United States of America,” President Barack Obama said at the time, expressing his disappointment that the act was rejected. “Our nation is enriched by their talents and would benefit from the success of their efforts. The DREAM Act is important to our economic competitiveness, military readiness and law enforcement efforts. And as the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $2.2 billion over the next 10 years. There was simply no reason not to pass this important legislation.”
Enactment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program does not mean the DREAM Act is dead, according to the White House. The Obama administration has officially stated that it remains committed to passing the DREAM Act along with other programs as part of a comprehensive reform of the nation’s immigration policies.