Immigration program for youth embraces American opportunity

On June 15, President Barack Obama’s administration announced the implementation of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which offers “deferred action” to immigrants who are brought to the United States as children and meet other specific requirements.

As of August, the Department of Homeland Security began accepting applications for the program. This was a positive and progressive step by the Obama administration, one that has given many young illegal immigrants hope.

The DACA program temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for youths who meet the set requirements. Some of the requirements are that the person must have come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday, is under age 31 as of June 15, 2012 and has resided in the U.S. between June 15, 2007 and the present.

They must also be currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school, obtained a GED diploma or have been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces. The candidate cannot have been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor or more than three misdemeanors.

With approval comes the right to work in America: An applicant with deferred action is able to receive an Employment Authorization Document. Being able to legally work in this country is something these young adults deserve.

Those who are approved have been living in this country since they were children and have worked to get through school despite the numerous challenges they face being illegal immigrants, such as the constant threat of deportation, working below minimum wage and heavy prejudice. These people want to work to support and better themselves, and they deserve the chance to do just that.

Despite what some protestors are claiming, the DACA program is not amnesty or immunity. It also does not provide applicants with a lawful immigration status or set up the person for a green card or citizenship. The deferred action is given for a two-year period, and the person can apply for it to be renewed, but it also can be revoked at any time.

To those claiming this will lead to more illegal immigrants flooding into this country and thereby destroying the “American” way of life, they may want to reevaluate that elitist attitude. Except for citizens of Native American descent, everyone in this country is linked to a family member who was once an immigrant.

Denying a person the chance to improve his or her life is something that is un-American. Just because your family came here earlier does not mean you can deny someone else the chance your ancestors had.

The term “melting pot” did not just spring up randomly; The U.S. is built on a pooling of different cultural backgrounds. Our history cannot be ignored. If you are going to stand up for this country, you should understand how it came to be.

The DACA program is a step in the right direction, giving those who have been stuck between countries a chance to work without fear of being deported. It protects children in this country who may have been living in America for as long as they can remember despite the proper paperwork – in their eyes, America already is their country.

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