August 15, 2012 marks a momentous day for the Hispanic community and for our country. With the rollout of the Department of Homeland Security’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs, nearly 1.7 million young immigrants will finally receive the opportunity to work for their dreams.
Starting today, undocumented youth who came to the United States as children and do not present a risk to national security or public safety, will be able to request relief from deportation. Now they will be able to pursue a college education, start a business, or serve their country without having to live under the shadow of deportation.
For far too long these dedicated and contributing members of our communities were unfairly penalized by Congressional Republicans’ refusal to work on meaningful immigration reform. But now, thanks to the steps taken by President Obama and his administration, young people who have been raised in this country, educated in our schools, and who pledge allegiance to our flag will now be shielded from the threat of deportation and qualify for basic protections to allow them to more fully contribute to this country.
While this is an important milestone for the Hispanic community, it remains only a temporary solution to the issue of our country’s unfair immigration policies. It is my hope that the Administration’s decision on deferred action will serve as a call to action for Congress to meet its responsibilities. Our country cannot afford to deport talented young students and workers who are American in every way except on paper. There is no other law in this country where a child is punished for the actions of his or her parents, and we, as elected officials, must do everything within our power to ensure those who work hard and play by the rules have access to pursue the American dream.