Tag Archives: Undocumented youth

Deferred Action Begins, Paul Ryan Pick, Powerful 67 Sueños Mural Unveiled in Fruitvale, 8/7-8/15

15 Aug
Road sign with the number 30

Photo by stevechihos/Flickr (Creative Commons)

Deferred Action Begins, 8.15.12
Yesterday, forms became available on the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website for deferred action. Today is the first day they can apply by submitting form I-821D. Deferred action would allow certain youth to receive a two year work permit which will provide relief from the threat of deportation and new economic opportunities as they would be allowed to enter the documented workforce To be eligible youth must have been under 31 years old on June 15th, 2012, must have been in the US continuously for the past 5 years, must have arrived before 16 y.o, and must meet a few other requirements as well. Once all requirements are met, participants must submit documentation proving the above as well as a $465 fee.

The Migration Policy Institute has estimated that 1.76 million will be eligible to participate. To prepare those that are eligible, many immigrants rights groups are providing resources to ease the confusion: NNIRR has created a Deferred Action resource center with several factsheets and links. For those in San Francisco; SFILEN has compiled a list of clinics  by immigrantion rights orgnanizations. While certainly a step forward, the deferred action does little for the other 9 million undocumented folks who live and work in the US.

Citizen student denied scholarship access because of her mother’s status.
In New Jersey, a student was denied access to the state financial aid pot because of her mother’s immigration status. Even though the student has lived in NJ for 15 years (and was born in NYC), she was rejected because of ”residency requirements.”  Evidently her Guatamalan mother’s immigration status played a role in her NJ residency. The student was not able to attend the university of her choice because she was unable to secure financial aid. Two democratic senators in NJ are working on the case, and to ensure this student and others are not subject to the discriminatory policy.

Paul Ryan, Romney VP pick
One columnist from Reuters is of the opinion that the Romney Campaign has given up on the Latino vote with the selection of the representative from Wisconsin. VP candidate Ryan’s views on immigration are consistent with the anti-immigrant arguments that were championed during the GOP primary. He opposes the DREAM Act, he is against amnesty or any type of relief for undocumented immigrants, and he favors the H2 visa program that provides few labor rights for seasonal and temporary laborers..

67 Sueños’ Migrant Women’s Health Mural Unveiled on Saturday; Undocubus
On Saturday, several hundred came to Fruitvale Plaza for the unveiling of their Migrant Womyn’s Health Mural. The mural is a project of 67 Sueños, a high school youth group working for migrant rights. The purpose of the mural was to highlight the health impact of the punitive US immigration system on migrant women. Youth interviewed women in the community and worked with local artists to put their images on the 8ftx 40ft mural. To provide a concrete benefit to the local Fruitvale residents, 67 Sueños also had a health fair at the event. In other news from fearless undocumented organizers, the Undocubus is currently winding through the Southeast to share their stories. The tour’s last stop was New Orleans where they met with day laborers and received a tour of the city that is still dealing with the aftermath of Katrina. The bus tour is scheduled to finish in North Carolina in early September for the Democratic National Convention.

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Obama’s deferred action for undocumented youth – a step in the right direction for US immigration policy, 6/12-6/19

21 Jun
President Obama at his big immigration address

AP Photo

Media sources around the country are abuzz about President Obama’s recent immigration policy memo. The new policy will halt deportation of certain youths who arrived in the US under the age of 16, have lived here for at least five years, are not above the age of 30 and who have no criminal record. The new rules are estimated to affect 800,000 young people who will now have greater rights and access to opportunities that were previously prohibited, specifically the opportunity to obtain a temporary work permit.

As Obama recognized in his speech, the new law provides a long-awaited reprieve for many young people who have lived their entire lives in the US, and yet are barred from participation in the most basic rights of citizenship.

“These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they’re friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag. They are Americans in their heart, in their minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”

The President’s speech acknowledges that young undocumented people are valuable and make important contributions to the nation.  Unfortunately, this acknowledgement has yet to be extended to all immigrants.  In his speech, the President perpetuated the idea that the parents of these young people are to blame.  He said that it would be tragic to “expel” these youth “simply because of the actions of their parents.”  The news coverage, similarly, played into this commonly held view that immigrants who came to the US for opportunities are criminals. Many news outlets further perpetuated the “criminal immigrant” stereotype with wide usage of the i-word, a pejorative term that has been denounced by the Society of Professional Journalists. While this policy memo will be critical for the improved opportunities of a small group of undocumented immigrants, it will also continue to be critical to fight the ongoing criminalization of other immigrants who are not considered young, bright or innocent.

Not surprisingly, the move by the President, has been seen as a highly political decision. In the Republican primaries, Romney took a very harsh anti-immigrant stance – but has since changed his tune as he prepares for the general election. The President’s plan has drawn a stark contrast between his and Romney’s approach to immigration. Early polls show strong popular support for the new policy, including among key constituencies such as Latino and Independent voters, and voters in battleground states such as Florida, Colorado and Arizona.

Meanwhile Republicans have scrambled to come up with a response to the memo. Senior Republicans – particularly those engaged in campaigning for November – have largely kept quiet on the issue. Romney avoided answering any questions about immigration at several campaign events during the week. And Marco Rubio, previously working on a Republican version of the DREAM Act, has abandoned his efforts in light of Obama’s announcement. However, some of the more conservative Republicans are actively pursuing efforts to overturn the law. Republican congressman Ben Quayle introduced a bill, “Prohibiting Back-Door Amnesty Act of 2012” to prevent the President’s law from taking effect.

This policy is an essential first step in reforming an immigration and deportation system that causes enormous health and economic harms for immigrant families and our communities. However, the rules offer only a temporary legal status, not a path to citizenship. Even Obama acknowledges that the law is not a “permanent fix” but rather “a temporary, stopgap measure that lets us focus our resources wisely while giving a degree of relief and hope to talented, driven, patriotic young people.” Truly addressing the health consequences of our immigration system will require longer-term measures that provide more extensive protections and opportunities to all of the country’s immigrants.