Last Friday the news started to trickle out that President Obama had an executive order to defer action on the deportation of young undocumented students. It was with joy that many of us received this news. It has been 10 years since the Dream Act was proposed in the United States Senate by Senator Durbin. It is about time something be done on such a travesty. It is a stop band-aid measure and what we need is comprehensive immigration reform pero algo es algo.
Through the years we have followed the twists and turns of this proposal and long awaited reform. As educators we have long faced the injustice of the systems that excludes people. It’s tough to be undocumented and to keep the faith in a country that wants to deport you if they find you. I have seen so many young people losing hope because they are undocumented and this gives us some hope. Some of the most outstanding driven students I know are undocumented. I have held hands and cried with people desperate to go to school and contribute to the United States but can’t because of a number. I remember a couple of students that discover to their shock that they are undocumented when they applied to college. Imagine living in a world that you can be caught and torn from your family at any moment. It still bothers me that the Obama administration stepped up the deportation of one million people in the last 3 years. I am not naïve to understand that the November election played into this decision. The Latino vote is critical in many swing states so let’s continue flexing our muscle for the things we want.
Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case-by-case basis:
1) Came to the United States under the age of 16;
2) Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3) 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;
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) Are not above the age of 30. (From government website)
If you are undocumented student or know someone, pass this advice along.
- Proceed with caution. It is still very early in the process so ask a lot of questions before you proceed. This is a temporary measure for only two years. Official information from government click here.
- Document your presence in the US. Take a class, take some photos etc.
- Check with a lawyer. Many people take the advice of friends and family members that might not know what they are talking about. It is money well spent to consult a lawyer, a real lawyer, not a notario or others.
- Keep going to school. If you think about it, this is a reward for staying in school. Get your GED if you don’t have a high school diploma. There are programs in your area that can help you.
- Find at least a class and enroll. This will look very favorable in your application and you can prove that you were here. Great time to perfect your English to thrive in the US.
Buena suerte and know that continuing in school will mark the difference in your life no matter what happens.
Ana Maria Soto