ILNews

Adams: Relief for immigrant 'Dreamers' soon to be a reality

July 4, 2012
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
Indiana Lawyer Commentary

By Angela D. Adams

angela adams Adams

Just minutes before attending my first session of the second day of the American Immigration Lawyers Association annual conference in Nashville, Tenn., I began to receive a flood of emails and tweets on my phone about an announcement which would completely change the lives of an estimated 1.4 million immigrant youth, commonly called “Dreamers,” across the country and between 21,000 and 29,000 immigrant youth in Indiana. As I stood in the coffee line, I wondered, “Is this really happening? Is this a joke? Am I dreaming?”

It was not a dream. Tears began to well up as I thought of all of the kids I have worked with in the last 15 years who would possibly benefit from this news. These are kids who were brought to the U.S. at a very young age through no fault of their own and have no other way to fix their status. They are Americans in every way except they are undocumented.

Along with 3,000 other immigration attorneys, I witnessed a live announcement that I and others have been anticipating for so long. The crowd smiled, cried, cheered and stood in disbelief as we listened and watched the president’s speech on three big screens. During commercial breaks we received briefings from AILA national staff. While the previous day had been spent largely criticizing the Obama administration for a lack of action in the area of immigration, Friday morning brought a complete game changer followed by a sudden change of heart. I will forever remember that as one of the top 10 coolest moments in my life.

Within the executive authority of the president, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a memorandum dated June 15, 2012, announcing that it would begin exercising prosecutorial discretion by allowing certain immigrant youth to apply for “deferred action.” Deferred action is a discretionary act of administrative convenience to the government which gives some cases lower priority. In an effort to clarify enforcement priorities, the Department of Homeland Security has decided not to initiate removal proceedings against those who meet the following five criteria for deferred action: (1) Entered the U.S. prior to the age of 16; (2) Continuous residence in the U.S. for at least five years immediately preceding and have been physically present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012; (3) Currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or have obtained a GED; (4) Not have a conviction for a felony offense, a substantial misdemeanor offense or multiple misdemeanor offenses; and (5) Not above the age of 30.

Individuals who qualify for deferred action will be eligible to apply for employment authorization for a period of two years, subject to renewal. Employment authorization allows one to also apply for a Social Security number and state identification card and/or driver’s license. In addition, deferred action may open the door for students to be eligible to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities. Most importantly, deferred action will serve to protect qualifying individuals from deportation or removal.

Deferred action is not an amnesty or immunity. It does not lead to lawful permanent residency or U.S. citizenship. It does not permit one to apply for family members. Those who qualify are not able to vote and are still subject to removal if they commit certain removable offenses.

The process to apply for deferred action is still unknown and many details are yet to be determined. DHS has been instructed to issue further guidance and clarification on the requirements and details of the application process, form, filing fee, etc., in 60 days. Unfortunately, unscrupulous notarios and immigration consultants are already coming out of the woodwork to sell misinformation to the public. Individuals who believe they may be eligible should be advised to seek legal advice from a competent immigration attorney. In addition, individuals who do not qualify should not apply as this could open them up to serious consequences, including the possibility of being placed in removal proceedings.

One cannot help but appreciate the fascinating politics and ingenious timing of this executive directive. For starters, the announcement was made on the 30th anniversary of the seminal U.S. Supreme Court decision, Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982), in which the court held that undocumented school-age children could not be denied free access to public education. It was also the first anniversary of the president’s memorandum on prosecutorial discretion, which critics suggest did not go over as well as planned. Also not by coincidence, the annual AILA conference provided 3,000 messengers who were perfectly poised to positively spread the word. Republican leaders had already announced their own version and support of the DREAM Act, and this further forced their hand.

Undoubtedly and obviously rallying for the Latino vote, both parties are now forced to take a serious look at immigration reform as the result of this announcement. This memo, followed by a recent and historic U.S. Supreme Court decision on the Arizona law, Arizona v. U.S., 567 U.S. ___ (2012), have started the snowball rolling toward comprehensive immigration reform just in time for the next election. In fact, the Supreme Court’s 5-3 decision to strike down major parts of Arizona’s immigration law suggests that the president acted within his executive power. The opinion emphasized the “broad discretion” of the federal government to set priorities in choosing which immigrants to deport. Even Justice Antonin Scalia in his dissent said the executive branch has supremacy over immigration.

The battle has only just begun. The polls are showing that the majority of Americans (64 percent) support this policy of deferred action for Dreamers. Sometimes the political thing to do also happens to be the right thing to do. Much more than a political move, it appears that the president’s directive is slowly nudging the immigration conversation back to the middle — where it belongs. The challenge will continue to be getting Congress to face the music, have a rational debate on immigration reform and pass a long-term solution.•

__________

Angela D. Adams is an attorney and director with the law firm of Lewis & Kappes P.C. concentrating on immigration matters. She is board president of the Immigrant Welcome Center and vice chair of the American Immigration Lawyers Association Indiana Chapter, and she has served as an education consultant for the Indiana Department of Education, division of language, minority and migrant programs. She is co-founder of META: Mapping Education Towards Achievement, a post-secondary awareness seminar for Hispanic students. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO He had knowledge, but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go All American Girl starred Margaret Cho The Miami Heat coach is nicknamed Spo I hate to paddle but don’t like to row Edward Rust is no longer CEO The Board said it was time for him to go The word souffler is French for blow I love the rain but dislike the snow Ten tosses for a nickel or a penny a throw State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO Bambi’s mom was a fawn who became a doe You can’t line up if you don’t get in a row My car isn’t running, “Give me a tow” He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go Plant a seed and water it to make it grow Phases of the tide are ebb and flow If you head isn’t hairy you don’t have a fro You can buff your bald head to make it glow State Farm is sad and filled with woe Edward Rust is no longer CEO I like Mike Tyson more than Riddick Bowe A mug of coffee is a cup of joe Call me brother, don’t call me bro When I sing scat I sound like Al Jarreau State Farm is sad and filled with woe The Board said it was time for him to go A former Tigers pitcher was Lerrin LaGrow Ursula Andress was a Bond girl in Dr. No Brian Benben is married to Madeline Stowe Betsy Ross couldn’t knit but she sure could sew He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know Edward Rust is no longer CEO Grand Funk toured with David Allan Coe I said to Shoeless Joe, “Say it ain’t so” Brandon Lee died during the filming of The Crow In 1992 I didn’t vote for Ross Perot State Farm is sad and filled with woe The Board said it was time for him to go A hare is fast and a tortoise is slow The overhead compartment is for luggage to stow Beware from above but look out below I’m gaining momentum, I’ve got big mo He had knowledge but wasn’t in the know Edward Rust is no longer CEO I’ve travelled far but have miles to go My insurance company thinks I’m their ho I’m not their friend but I am their foe Robin Hood had arrows, a quiver and a bow State Farm has a lame duck CEO He had knowledge, but wasn’t in the know The Board said it was time for him to go State Farm is sad and filled with woe

  2. The ADA acts as a tax upon all for the benefit of a few. And, most importantly, the many have no individual say in whether they pay the tax. Those with handicaps suffered in military service should get a pass, but those who are handicapped by accident or birth do NOT deserve that pass. The drivel about "equal access" is spurious because the handicapped HAVE equal access, they just can't effectively use it. That is their problem, not society's. The burden to remediate should be that of those who seek the benefit of some social, constructional, or dimensional change, NOT society generally. Everybody wants to socialize the costs and concentrate the benefits of government intrusion so that they benefit and largely avoid the costs. This simply maintains the constant push to the slop trough, and explains, in part, why the nation is 20 trillion dollars in the hole.

  3. Hey 2 psychs is never enough, since it is statistically unlikely that three will ever agree on anything! New study admits this pseudo science is about as scientifically valid as astrology ... done by via fortune cookie ....John Ioannidis, professor of health research and policy at Stanford University, said the study was impressive and that its results had been eagerly awaited by the scientific community. “Sadly, the picture it paints - a 64% failure rate even among papers published in the best journals in the field - is not very nice about the current status of psychological science in general, and for fields like social psychology it is just devastating,” he said. http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/27/study-delivers-bleak-verdict-on-validity-of-psychology-experiment-results

  4. Indianapolis Bar Association President John Trimble and I are on the same page, but it is a very large page with plenty of room for others to join us. As my final Res Gestae article will express in more detail in a few days, the Great Recession hastened a fundamental and permanent sea change for the global legal service profession. Every state bar is facing the same existential questions that thrust the medical profession into national healthcare reform debates. The bench, bar, and law schools must comprehensively reconsider how we define the practice of law and what it means to access justice. If the three principals of the legal service profession do not recast the vision of their roles and responsibilities soon, the marketplace will dictate those roles and responsibilities without regard for the public interests that the legal profession professes to serve.

  5. I have met some highly placed bureaucrats who vehemently disagree, Mr. Smith. This is not your father's time in America. Some ideas are just too politically incorrect too allow spoken, says those who watch over us for the good of their concept of order.

ADVERTISEMENT