Across the USA, DREAMers prepare to be free

Since June 15, undocumented youth across the country, or DREAMers, as we’ve come to known them as eligible to participate of a future DREAM Act, started relishing a short-term opportunity of becoming free to be, to participate and work, as beneficiaries of the latest in a roller coaster of maybe’s in the last four years, the deferred action policy.

This new policy, which will start taking applications August 15, offers to defer a potential deportation and stabilize the youth’s life for two years. It includes employment authorization.

Benny Veliz, who became one of the first faces of the DREAMer movement when her story made national news in 2009, finally got her deportation charges dropped last year and although she’s been protected from deportation, Benny has been in an immigrants’ limbo ever since and could be deported, even after being stopped for a minor driving infraction.

Benny says that she will definitely apply this Monday.

Republican candidate Mitt Romney has already made it clear there will be no DREAM Act if he becomes president and has declared he will have a ‘permanent solution’ to the problem of undocumented immigration. As a matter of fact, he’s said striking down deferred action policy will be one of the first things he’ll do as president.

President Obama has continued to play a carrot and stick number, and stated that he won’t give up on immigration reform as long as he is president. Detractors have pointed out that if low priority enforcement is not taking place, why would deferred action be any different.

Still, DREAMers remained positive that this will at least provide breathing room until a true immigration reform takes place.

Lizardo Buleje, who recently graduated with an Electrical Engineering degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and faced an uncertain future when he woke up on the morning of June 15th, was brimming with excitement and anticipation that afternoon.

“This morning’s Breaking News has been the best news I have received in years. Finally, the hard work of all Dreamers has paid off, but this is only the beginning, this is only the first step. Tonight, Dreamers are united again and will be celebrating the amazing news; however, tomorrow is time for us to go out and show the United States and the world that this was NOT a mistake. We are going to finish school (in my case, my Master’s Degree), get jobs, become professionals, and help our home and beloved country, the United States, succeed,” said Buleje after hearing the news.

Buleje was part of a group of undocumented youth who went on a hunger strike to demonstrate for the DREAM Act a couple of years ago. He’s now counting the hours to August 15th and will be applying to get a fresh and more exciting start in life as a free man.

On your marks, get ready, go
Around the country, more than a million young undocumented have a file filled with documents they’ll be ready and excited to turn in on Monday, their life in the United States documented through school and college transcripts, record of vaccinations, driver’s license, passport, and other papers. They’ll be more than happy to pay the fee of $465 in exchange for coming out of the shadows.

“When a million or more young immigrants begin signing up for deferred action on August 15, it will be hard to hold back the tears.  You cannot overstate how important this moment will be in immigrant communities and Latino neighborhoods across the country. The excitement is electric and will not be dampened by House and Senate Republicans threatening to sue the President or take other actions to squelch young people’s dreams,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez (D-IL), Chairman of the Immigration Task Force of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus.

Under this directive, individuals who demonstrate that they meet the following criteria will be eligible for an exercise of discretion, specifically deferred action, on a case by case basis:

  1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
  2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum (June 15, 2012);
  3. 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;
  4. 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;
  5. Are not above the age of thirty.

Organizations across the USA have been holding seminars, conference calls and webinars to instruct the potential beneficiaries as to how the process will work and what do they need to apply. Many will congregate this Monday to celebrate the date and start filing applications.

Rep. Gutierrez, with the help of the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, will hold a DREAM Relief Day event in Chicago on August 15. The event will take place at the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier, from 9:00 am to 2 pm. At that event, Gutierrez will be joined by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Senator Dick Durbin, community organizations and volunteers and they expect over 1,000 eligible young people to come forward to get informed about the application process and to sign-up.

Rep. Gutierrez also said that they know of at least 20 events planned at different points in the country and that on August 2nd 20 Members of Congress pledged to help young immigrants receive clear and accurate information and get them signed up if they qualify.

For more info on the event and to check if you qualify for deferred action policy, click here.

To check the listing of events held for DREAMers on or about August 15 compiled by the Fair Immigration Reform Movement click here.

Video: Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez takes the floor of Congress to explain the new policy and send a special message to DREAMers

Who benefits from the Deferred Action Policy?
A report by the Immigration Policy Center sheds light over who will benefit.

There are approximately 1.4 million immigrants currently in the United States who might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative, either now or when they are older. Roughly 936,930 immigrants between the ages of 15 and 30 might immediately meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative. They comprise 69 percent of all potential beneficiaries. Approximately 426,330 immigrants between the ages of 5 and 14 might meet the requirements of the deferred action initiative at some point in the future if the initiative remains in place. They comprise 31 percent of all potential beneficiaries.

The IPC also stated that most DREAMers are Mexican and are found in big immigrant-receiving states with large unauthorized populations, such as California and Texas. Yet DREAMers, IPC recognized, are also found in virtually every state, and significant numbers are non-Mexicans who hail from all corners of the globe.


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