On Aug. 15, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests for consideration of deferred deportation action for some people who came to the United States as children.
This process is a significant step in making the country’s immigration policy more efficient. It is important that the young adults who qualify for this process participate. It is a good opportunity for these young adults, who have come to be known as “Dreamers,” and for our country.
Having talented young people removed from the United States because of the actions of their parents does not make sense. The people who qualify for this process must meet guidelines designed to ensure that they are contributing to our communities. They must have come to this country when they were under the age of 16; they must have resided in the U.S. continuously for at least five years; they must be in school, have graduated from high school, earned a general education development certificate or have been honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces. Additionally, applicants must show that they have not been convicted of a crime, pose a threat to national security or public safety and they must not be older than 30 when they apply.
This is not a path to citizenship. This will not change the legal residence status of the people who apply. It is not amnesty or immunity. Most importantly, this is not a permanent fix. Only the U.S. Congress can provide that. This is about priorities. Until Congress fixes our broken immigration system, we must focus our resources in the right places.
That is why the decision from the Obama administration and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano to pursue this process change is one that shows real leadership. During these economic times, we must prioritize the limited resources available to immigration enforcement agencies. This allows immigration officers to focus their work on high-priority individuals, instead of on young people who are earning their education or serving our country in the military.
As with any change, there is a risk that people will not get the right information. Fortunately, the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services have done an outstanding job of ensuring that people are informed about the process change.
Anyone wishing to learn more about the deferred action for childhood arrivals, or anyone seeking to learn how to apply for consideration should go to www.uscis.gov/childhoodarrivals or call the USCIS National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.
— Ruben Gallego, Democrat, represents Legislative District 16 in south Phoenix.