The announcement to grant deferred action to allow DREAMers to stay and work in the U.S. for the next two years is “not a permanent solution”, said Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Muñoz in a conference call. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced an executive order to grant deferred action to people under the age of 30 who will be relieved from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings if they were brought to the U.S. as undocumented children and if they meet several key criteria.
While this new policy was well received among immigration activists, Muñoz remarked that only Congressional action can pass the so-called DREAM Act, which grants a pathway to citizenship for those who were brought illegally to the U.S. under the age of 16 and who have obtained college degrees in the U.S. or served in the military.
The new policy excludes young people who have been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or pose a threat to national security or public safety.
John Sandweg, Counselor to the Secretary of Homeland Security highlighted that these announcement allows immigration enforcement agencies to focus their resources on the removal of convicted immigrants and repetitive violators of immigration laws. “Over past three years, there has been an unprecedented transformation of our immigration enforcement system using common sense to remove people who represent a threat to our national security,” Sandweg said in a conference call on Friday, June 15.
The new policy is in line with a previous DHS memo released last June to encourage broad discretion to immigration enforcement personnel to decide which immigrants should be detained and deported.
Sandweg explained that the three agencies under DHS have received the new order and would give priority to young individuals who meet these criteria and who are currently under removal proceedings. The implementation of the new policy is expected to take place within the next 60 days, announced Sandweg.