Dream Act Goes Into Effect Wednesday
It's not quite the "Dream Act," but it will have to do for supporters of expanded rights and a path to citizenship for younger illegal immigrants. Starting today, those under the age of 31 who were brought to the U.S. illegally by their parents as children can apply for a deportation waiver and work permit under the new "deferred action for childhood arrivals" policy. The policy is a new directive from the Department of Homeland Security that was announced by President Obama back in June. Luis Vera, general counsel for the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), welcomes the action. "It is a new day to bring all of these people out from under the shadows," he tells KTRH.
The new policy has similar goals as the "Dream Act," which has stalled in Congress. That legislation sought to grant a path to citizenship for young people who were attending college or in the military. While this "deferred action" is aimed at people who were brought to the U.S. as children, Vera says it will also accomplish some of the Dream Act's goals. "I've personally been working with students who have more than one college degree, have been in this country their whole lives, have everything in the world to contribute, and there are hundreds of thousands of young people just like that."
While LULAC is pleased with this policy, other activist groups are not as satisfied. Hector Chavana with the Houston Council of La Raza calls it a "half-measure." "I don't think there's anybody out there that would consider this anything more than election year pandering," he tells KTRH. Chavana and his group would like to see the full, original Dream Act implemented. This move, he claims, is far from that. "I think there should be a pathway to citizenship, and there's not in this act," he says. "I think it should be a lot more expansive."