DREAM Act Protects Children From Deportation

Reactions to the Department of Homeland Security’s new policy directive halting deportations of immigrants who have met the standards of achievement and responsibility that would have qualified them for residency status under the as yet unpassed DREAM Act. There new policies remove the threat of deportation from those who were brought to the United States as children.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, Jewish Council for Public Affairs:

Finally, reason and decency have come to the table in the immigration debate. The JCPA has advocated for passage of the DREAM Act to reward children who, despite their circumstances, have worked hard and remained in school.  But in the face of legislative stagnation, we applaud President Obama and Secretary Napolitano for issuing this policy directive on behalf of young and committed immigrants to permit them to stay and be a part of our nation. This step will assuage their fears that they could be deported at a moment’s notice.

The biblical mandate to treat the stranger as our own holds particularly true to American Jews. Just as we were strangers in Egypt, many Jews began as strangers in America. In light of many of our own experiences, we have an obligation to see that today’s immigrants, looking for a share in the freedom and prosperity of America, are met with the same opportunities we have had.

Larry Gold, JCPA Chair:

Our immigration laws have increasingly been used as a means of turning people away, not welcoming them, betraying the promise of America as a nation that has benefited from the contributions of immigrants from all corners of the world. Today’s directive by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a welcome step.  Finally, those who were brought to the United States as children and worked every day since then to graduate from our schools or serve our country in the military, do not need to fear that their success and effort will be destroyed with deportation.”

Marc R. Stanley and David A. Harris:

I want to express our strong support for President Obama’s crucial effort to help reform America’s immigration system. These new measures will remove the threat of deportation from those who were too young to have any say over their legal status, and this effort represents a fair and just policy for those who have known deep uncertainty and fear throughout their lives. The beneficiaries of this decision have worked hard to find a place in the country that they call home. Many of these young people have even risked their lives as members of the armed forces; these young people deserve the opportunity to reach for the American dream without it being denied.

American Jews — as descendants of immigrants, if not immigrants ourselves — understand profoundly what it means to have a shot at success in America. The provisions announced by the President today provide that opportunity. Once again, President Obama has implemented a policy that reflects the values of the vast majority of American Jews — and indeed most Americans — and we thank him for his bold leadership.

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  1. Publisher says

    The immigration policy enunciated by the Obama Administration regarding individuals who entered the United States in their youth was applauded by Agudath Israel of America, a national Orthodox Jewish organization. Under the new U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directive, there would be “deferred action” for a period of two years in regard to some individuals who face removal from the country. Persons falling within this category will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

    “The policy is both pragmatic and proper,” said David Grunblatt, Chair of Agudath Israel’s Legal Services Network Immigration Committee. “These foreign-born individuals were brought to this country as youngsters, were educated here, have contributed their talents here and continue to live here. They should not live in the shadow of being expelled from the U.S. to a country where they have never lived and might not even speak the language.”

    The DHS’ policy is discretionary in nature and is intended to be applied on a case by case basis to persons not above age 30. Eligibility criteria include: entry into the U.S. under age 16, continuous residence for five years, and current enrollment in school, graduation from high school or honorable discharge from the Armed Forces. Persons will not be deemed eligible if they have been convicted of a felony or significant misdemeanor, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

    DHS has also made clear that “deferred action” confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship.

    “The policy addresses an urgent and unfortunate situation — one that has affected many members of the Jewish Community that have sought our help but for whom little could be done,” concluded Rabbi Abba Cohen, Agudath Israel’s Vice President for Federal Affairs and Washington Director. “And, given our community’s history, we must be particularly sensitive that our immigration policies embody compassion and common sense. This is a positive step in that direction.”

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