July 01, 2012

Directive allows undocumented youth to stay temporarily in U.S.

ABA President Wm. T. (Bill) Robinson III applauded the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS)announcement last month to allow undocumented youth who were brought to the United States as children to stay temporarily in this country if they meet certain criteria.

“The announcement is consistent with American ideals of fairness and opportunity,” Robinson said in a statement released June 15, the day the announcement was made. “Children should not be punished for the acts of their parents,” he said, adding that for many the United States is the only home they know.

Under the directive, individuals will be eligible for relief from removal if they meet the following criteria:

  • came to the United States under the age of 16 and are not over the age of 30;
  • have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years and were residing in the United States on June 15;
  • 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; and
  • 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.

“Our nation’s immigration’s laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner, but they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case,” DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano said when she announced the policy. She added that the laws are not designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language.  

Because the directive only grants temporary relief and no immigration status or a pathway to citizenship, Robinson said that the ABA will continue to support the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act (DREAM Act), which would allow an adjustment of status to legal permanent resident for youth who meet criteria similar to that required under the directive.

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