Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced this morning that DHS will allow certain undocumented foreign nationals who entered the United States before their 16th birthday to remain in the country and obtain work authorization for a renewable term of two years.
"Effective today, DREAMers can rejoice," attorney Jan Pederson said.
"President Obama made good on his promise to permit an estimated on million young people to stay in America, granting work permit and permission to remain in America. We applaud President Obama for this courageous step to achieve immigration equality."
According to Secretary Napolitano's memorandum [PDF], those that meet the following criteria will be eligible for "deferred action," which means that DHS lawyers have decided not to prosecute their case:
- Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum (i.e. since June 15, 2007) and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
- Are currently 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;
- 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;
- Are not above the age of thirty.
The memo takes effect immediately, meaning that eligible foreign nationals in removal proceedings and those with a final order of deportation will be eligible for deferred action.
DHS' move comes almost two years after the DREAM Act, which would grant conditional permanent residency to similar foreign nationals, failed a cloture vote in the Senate on December 8, 2010.
President Obama will make a statement on the new policy today at 1:15 p.m. Please stay tuned for updates.
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