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Not a De Facto DREAM Act, But at Least a Start

 Sometimes solutions aren’t ideal. When it becomes overly difficult to fix a broader problem, however, a “workaround” on a temporary basis can be a good first step.

The policy change announced last week by President Obama on immigration status for young people brought to the U.S. illegally as children is a good example of a workaround. For years, Congress has been unable to pass comprehensive immigration reform. As a result, millions of undocumented people still face an ambiguous status in this country.

And their children could be denied full access American life, just because their parents brought them to country illegally years ago. In fact, they could potentially be deported back to a country they scarcely know.

So the president announced a policy decision to not seek deportation of young, undocumented people who meet certain criteria. Under the new policy, those people are eligible to stay in U.S. and apply for two-year work permits.

Specifically, the policy applies to those who meet these criteria:

•· Age is not older than 30

•· Arrived in the U.S. before turning 16

•· Lived in the U.S. for at least five years

•· No criminal record

•· Earn or have earned a high school diploma or GED, or serve in the military

Many of these criteria reflect a proposal called the DREAM Act, which Congress has failed to pass.

Before undocumented young people get too euphoric, it should be noted that the policy change is limited in scope. It is not permanent and it does not confer citizenship or grant legal residency.

Still, thousands of young undocumented people across the country welcomed the president’s announcement enthusiastically.

Source: “A DREAM Act workaround,” Chicago Tribune, 6-18-12

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