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Akaka praises Obama’s immigration announcement

MEDIA RELEASE
U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) released the following statement Friday:

“I am proud of President Obama for taking strong action on this important domestic policy issue which has been blocked from action in Congress for too long. The United States is a nation with a long history of immigrants contributing to the growth of our great nation. Young people who entered this country as children through no fault of their own, contribute to their communities, and view America as the only home they’ve ever known, should not have to fear deportation at every turn.

“However, this is not a long term solution – we need to do more. We need to continue the conversation on comprehensive immigration reform, beginning with a vote on the DREAM Act. I cosponsored this common-sense bill, which offers a sensible step towards immigration reform, makes our nation stronger, and treats upstanding young people with dignity. It encourages military service, provides an incentive for higher education, and helps young people contribute. I urge my colleagues to make this Administration’s decision permanent by enacting the DREAM Act this year.”

Deferred action immigration process for young people

MEDIA RELEASE

Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano announced that effective immediately, certain young people who were brought to the United States as young children, do not present a risk to national security or public safety, and meet several key criteria will be considered for relief from removal from the country or from entering into removal proceedings.

Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal, and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

“Our nation’s immigration laws must be enforced in a firm and sensible manner,” Napolitano said. “But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances of each case. Nor are they designed to remove productive young people to countries where they may not have lived or even speak the language. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”

DHS continues to focus its enforcement resources on the removal of individuals who pose a national security or public safety risk, including immigrants convicted of crimes, violent criminals, felons, and repeat immigration law offenders. The action further enhances the Department’s ability to focus on these priority removals.

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:

* Came to the United States under the age of 16

* 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

* 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

* 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

* Are not above the age of 30

Only those individuals who can prove through verifiable documentation that they meet these criteria will be eligible for deferred action. Individuals will not be eligible if they are not currently in the United States and cannot prove that they have been physically present in the United States for a period of not less than 5 years immediately preceding today’s date.

Deferred action requests are decided on a case-by-case basis. DHS cannot provide any assurance that all such requests will be granted.

The use of prosecutorial discretion confers no substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship. Only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer these rights.

While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within 60 days.

In the meantime, individuals seeking more information on the new policy should visit USCIS’s website (at www.uscis.gov), ICE’s website (at www.ice.gov), or DHS’s website (at www.dhs.gov).

Beginning Monday, individuals can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions or to request more information on the forthcoming process.

For individuals who are in removal proceedings and have already been identified as meeting the eligibility criteria and have been offered an exercise of discretion as part of ICE’s ongoing case-by-case review, ICE will immediately begin to offer them deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.

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