Since June 2012, President Barack Obama and Janet Napolitano, the secretary of homeland security, have said certain undocumented immigrant youth may live and work in the U.S. under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program and the Development, Relief
and Education for Alien Minors Act.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has asked Ruth Johnson, the Michigan secretary of state, to give driver’s licenses to immigrants brought to the U.S. as children.
“For the bright young DREAMers whom the federal government has authorized to live and work in the U.S., the ability to obtain driver’s licenses is an important step to realizing the American dream of working, going to college and giving back to their communities,” Miriam Aukerman, a staff attorney for the ACLU, said in a statement.
For years, Washington has been debating the issue of illegal immigrants.
Undocumented workers, mostly from Mexico but also from El Salvador, Guatemala and elsewhere, have come across the boarder in search of jobs, security and greener pastures.
Obama said in a Rose Garden speech in June 2012, “These are young people who study in our schools, they play in our neighborhoods, they are friends with our kids, they pledge allegiance to our flag, they are Americans in their hearts, minds, in every single way but one: on paper.”
An estimated 1.76 million youth in the U.S. are eligible for the DACA program, including about 15,000 in Michigan, according to an ACLU release.
Johnson has asked the administration to clarify whether young undocumented immigrants qualify for the program. What she wants clarified is the difference between “lawful status” and “legal presence.”
According to the White House website, in order for a DREAMer to qualify for the program, they must:
• Have come to the U.S. before their 16th birthday.
• Lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007.
• Been under age 31 as of June 15, 2012.
• Be currently in school, have graduated from high school or obtained a GED, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or the Air Force.
• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, have three or more misdemeanors or pose any other threat.
• Must have been present in the U.S. since June 15, 2012 and at the time of making the request for consideration of differed action with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.
During a June 2012 speech, Obama said, “This morning, Secretary Napolitano announced new actions my administration will take to mend my administration’s immigration policy to make it more fair, more efficient and more just.”
Obama pointed out in his speech DREAMers often have no idea they’re undocumented until they apply for a job or a scholarship.
“Put yourself in their shoes,” Obama said.
The DACA program allows the children of illegal immigrants to remain in the U.S. for at least two years, allows authorization for employment and is subject to renewal.
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