June 15, 2012 — Washington, DC — AJC applauds President Obama's announcement today of new Administration policy to stop deporting undocumented youth from the U.S. who would qualify for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act.
"President Obama's decision will enhance educational opportunities for deserving students, level the playing field for all children, and bolster America's role as a leader in the competitive global economy," said Richard Foltin, AJC's Director of National and Legislative Affairs.
There are an estimated 50,000-65,000 undocumented students who graduate from American high schools each year. "Many came to the U.S. at a young age, have grown up in American schools, developed American values, and are American in every sense except their citizenship," said Foltin.
Following President Obama's announcement today, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin a process for granting "deferred action" to undocumented youth who are in the U.S. and would otherwise qualify for relief under the version of the DREAM Act passed by the House of Representatives in December 2010.
Eligible individuals – including but not limited to those who are currently in deportation proceedings – will be allowed to remain and work in the U.S. for a renewable two-year period.
"While granting deferred action to these students is an important step towards desperately needed reform of our immigration system, we will continue to advocate for legislation that establishes a permanent path to citizenship for these DREAM Act students," said Foltin.
Citing a UCLA study that concluded that DREAM Act participants could contribute $1.4-$3.6 trillion to the U.S. economy during their working lives, Foltin continued, "These students are vital to our nation's future. Allowing them to stay in the United States not only benefits them, but also enhances America's rich, vibrant, and diverse culture."
Since its founding in 1906, AJC has been a strong voice in support of fair and generous immigration policies that are consistent with humanitarian values and with the need to treat all individuals with respect, while allowing the United States to implement its immigration laws and protect our national security.