President Obama announced today the decision of offering administrative relief for young immigrants, immediately stopping any deportation and providing an opportunity to apply for a temporary work permit. This decision comes after nearly a decade of bold pressure from youth and immigrant families throughout the country who have been asking our government for protection for the future of DREAMers and two years since youth from Florida escalated actions to the national arena, putting the spotlight on the administrative power of the President.
Below is the statement from Maria Rodriguez, Executive Director for the Florida Immigrant Coalition.
“We applaud the President’s decision to take action; it was indeed the right thing to do. Our communities could not wait any longer for Congress to make a decision on the DREAM Act, while students and their families continued to be detained and deported every single day.
For many years, the Dream Act has been more than just a piece of legislation for the millions of lives that it impacts across the nation –it has been a movement spearheaded by young people for the future of immigrant families. Diverse sectors have joined this struggle, including civil rights and union leaders, military generals and clergy, and there has also been significant bi-partisan support unlike any other state in the country.
In a momentous step in that direction today, the Obama administration announced this afternoon an executive order to halt the deportations of Dream Act-eligible youth who were brought to this country under the age of 16 and are still under the age of 30. The age cap represents all the youth that would have been eligible if the law had been put into effect when it was initially introduced in 2001. This Administrative order, though it cannot offer any pathway to citizenship, will open an opportunity within the department of Homeland Security for nearly 800,000 eligible immigrants to apply for work permits.
This decision not only benefits DREAMers or their immediate families, but all Americans. It makes no sense to expel talented young people who want to staff our labs, start new businesses, and contribute to our country. As more immigrants come out of the shadows and receive an opportunity, our country will benefit from skilled professionals as well as from future business owners that will help reactivate local economies by generating jobs and buying local products.
In the words of the youth themselves: “As we continue to work towards securing a pathway to citizenship for young Americans like me, we rejoice the historic action by President Obama to provide some protection for thousands of young people across this nation that recognize the United States as our only home,” says Jose Machado from Students Working for Equal Rights (SWER).
“We recognize this is only a temporary relief, and we stand with the President in asking Congress to take the next step in approving the DREAM Act that would bring a final solution for thousands of young students and their families who have been living in this country for long and want to be able to contribute their full potential to their communities without fear,” says Evelyn Rivera, Florida Immigrant Youth Network.
DREAMers have put everything on the line for their dreams in so many bold and inspiring actions. Since four of our youth leaders courageously decided to walk the Trail of Dreams from Miami to Washington, until the sit-ins and fasts we have seen in Obama’s offices nationwide in recent weeks, the hard work finally pays off as we continue to stand up for our families and for our futures.