Will Obama's 'Deferred Action' Policy Provide Legal Status to Immigrant Youth--or Put Them at Greater Risk?
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Immigrant Youth Justice League warns that the Obama administration’s earlier promise of “ prosecutorial discretion”--granting clemency in “low-priority” deportation cases of people who aren't deemed a security threat--has reportedly aided only an outrageously tiny fraction of those who should be eligible for relief.
Domenic Powell, an activist with the National Immigrant Youth Alliance, notes that many undocumented workers already try to pay their share in taxes by using Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers. The new employment authorization that Deferred Action enrollees will receive, Powell argues, “does take an additional step toward the auspices of legality, but it's still an expression of the federal government's belief that someone's labor can be legal while the person is not.”
The Obama administration made a careful political calculation when it offered Deferred Action. Now it’s time for DREAMers to cautiously weigh their fears against their dreams. Temporary relief from deportation could open the door to more exploitation of young immigrants, but it could also further embolden them to agitate in public for economic justice and human rights, and to defend communities against policies that have for years crushed so much human potential. In the coming months, we’ll see what becomes of a dream deferred.