National Immigration Forum

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Immigration Policy Update: Relief for Dream-Eligible Young People; Reform Movement Grows

June 15, 2012 - Posted by Maurice Belanger

Administration Announces Deferred Action for Certain Young People

On June 15, the Obama Administration announced that it would grant deferred action (a form of administrative relief from deportation) for certain young people who were brought to the U.S. as young children and meet certain criteria. Persons will be eligible for deferred action if they can demonstrate that they:

  • came to the United States before the age of sixteen;

  • were in the U.S. on June 15 and have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years;

  • are currently in school, graduated from high school, obtained a general education development certificate, or were honorably discharged from the Coast Guard or Armed Forces;

  • have not been convicted of certain crimes;

  • are not a threat to national security or public safety; and

  • are not above the age of 30.

Deferred action will be granted in two-year increments for those who can prove they are eligible. According to the Associated Press, the deferred action could affect as many as 800,000 people. Existing regulations governing deferred action provide for work authorization for those who can show it is an economic necessity.

It will take some time for the new directive to be implemented. A DHS press release states that a process for applying for this relief will be implemented by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services within sixty days.

There is an extensive Q and A up on the DHS Web site, where you can get more information about this announcement and who will qualify for deferred action.

Advocates have urged the Administration to go beyond its case-by-case prosecutorial discretion review of pending deportation cases, and DREAM-eligible youth have a particularly compelling case for relief. At the end of May, 100 law professors signed a letter to the President, outlining steps the Administration could take with existing legal authority to protect potential beneficiaries of the DREAM Act. One of those existing authorities, deferred action, is what the Administration announced it would implement, consistent with its effort to focus enforcement resources on individuals who represent public safety or national security threats.

The Forum’s press release reacting to the Administration’s announcement can be found here.

Immigration Reform Tent Gets Bigger

Last week, two events highlighted a growing gap between politicians in Washington and their constituents on the issue of immigration reform.

Evangelical Leaders Release Principles for Immigration Reform
On June 12, representatives of a group of more than 150 evangelical leaders held a press conference on Capitol Hill announcing the release of an “Evangelical Statement of Principles for Immigration Reform.” These leaders were organized by a group calling itself the Evangelical Immigration Table, consisting of, among others, Leith Anderson, President of the National Association of Evangelicals; Dr. Richard Land, President of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission; and Samuel Rodriguez, President of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. In conjunction with the press conference, the evangelical leaders published their Principles, along with signatories, in a full-page ad in Politico.

Included among the signatories were leaders who are very influential in conservative constituencies, including Jim Daly of Focus on the Family, and Pastors who command very large congregations, including Bill Hybels, of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington Illinois (with an average Sunday attendance of 24,000) and Max Lucado, of the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, who has more than 400,000 followers on Twitter.  The collection of evangelical leaders who came together to agree on the immigration reform principles is remarkable, given that, on many other issues, there are strong disagreements among them.

Representatives of the Evangelical Immigration Table followed up the press conference with visits to House, Senate, and Administration leaders to discuss their principles and the need for immigration reform. The group will begin airing radio ads featuring Dr. Richard Land and Luis Cortés of Esperanza, who talk about the hardship caused by our broken immigration system and the need to fix it. The ads will air beginning this week on Christian radio stations in Florida and Colorado, two states that will be critical in the upcoming election and that contain large populations of evangelicals.

You can view the principles, see the signatories, listen to the radio ad, and view a recording of the press conference at A press release on the Forum’s Web site highlights some of the statements made by some of the signatories. You can also scroll through some of the press coverage on our news clippings page.

Southeast Summit: Forging a New Consensus on Immigrants and America
The evangelical press conference came one day after 150 individuals from Alabama, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee convened in Atlanta to discuss the importance of immigrants and immigration to the region’s economic and cultural vitality. In attendance were leaders from the business, law enforcement and faith communities, participating in a discussion about a realistic and workable solution at the federal level for our broken immigration system.

Among the speakers at this conference were Southern Baptist Convention Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission President Dr. Richard Land, North Carolina Farm Bureau President Larry Wooten, Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security Deputy Commissioner Larry Godwin, Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ralph Schulz, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, and Uvalda, Georgia, Mayor Paul Bridges.

In his Keynote address to the conference, former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said that, “We don’t need a vigilante state government to fill in for a federal government that’s not handling its job,” and that it is “time for our federal officials to step up, show leadership and pass comprehensive immigration reform.”

The conference was the second in a series of regional events where leaders (primarily conservative, faith, business and law enforcement leaders) are coming together to discuss rational solutions for our broken immigration laws and represents an alternative to the kinds of policies being enacted in states like Arizona and Alabama.

For more information, read this release from the National Immigration Forum. More information about the Forging a New Consensus initiative, including recordings from the Mountain West Summit held in October 2011 in Salt Lake City, can be found at

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