As you may have heard by now, the Obama Administration decided to act on the issue of children brought to the United States who have gone on to have otherwise productive lives only to realize as they got older that they are unlawfully present in the United States. The U.S. Congress wasn’t acting on the DREAM Act, so the Administration did.
Before you have that “courageous conversation” with the young foreign national who is working for you and who may or may not have authorization to work, remember that there are serious penalties for knowingly employing unauthorized workers. On August 15th , USCIS began accepting applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals to the US.
Andrew Jackson had his “Kitchen Cabinet,” Franklin Roosevelt his “Brain Trust.” Seth Godin has his “Tribes,” web-based “silos of interest.” I’ve been a member of many tribes (as I write this I’m recalling my tattered T-shirt from my own and my adult daughter’s Indian Princess days, many moons ago [click here to see the shirt]). In the Googlean sense, immigration lawyers likewise have their “circles” (if a noun can become a verb, I guess it can be an adjective as well).
On August 15, 2012, the same day that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting applications under the Obama administration’s new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Governor Jan Brewer issued an executive order preventing the state of Arizona from issuing driver’s licenses and public benefits to young undocumented immigrants who receive deferred status and work authorization under the new program.
Tomorrow, August 15, 2012, is perhaps as momentous to DREAMers as D-Day, June 6, 1944, was to The Greatest Generation. The invasion of Normandy marked the end of World War II in Europe and the fall of a tyrannical Nazi regime that made mincemeat of the rule of law. Though the comparison may seem hyperbolic to some, I remember well my first visit to the Holocaust Memorial Musuem in Washington.
On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that DHS would exercise prosecutorial discretion for certain individuals who entered the US as children and meet other requirements. Those who qualify would not be removed from the US, would be granted “deferred action” for 2 years, subject to renewal, and be granted employment authorization.
The portents were plentiful, reaching back 30 years. Yet none but a clairvoyant could have predicted the aftermath on June 15, 1982 when the Supreme Court in Plyler v. Doe provided undocumented children with a guarantee of education through high school. Three decades to the day, a mixed-race president (whose Kenyan father was hounded out of the U.S. as a student by the immigration authorities for dating a white woman) would provide paperless kids with a tenuous legal status and the right to work.
At President Obama’s signing ceremony for the JOBS Act last week, White House guests slapped high fives with bipartisan glee. They came to the Rose Garden to help “Jumpstart Our Business Startups,” as the new law’s title optimistically promises to do. With pen in hand, the President joined in the merriment, observing that it’s not about blather but action
Last week I ventured into an alternate reality. Like the child, Alice, descending through the rabbit hole, I engaged on immigration with Executive-Branch officials, immigration lawyers, members of Congress, including the indefatigable champion of immigration reform, Rep. Luis Gutierrez, their staffs, and a group of 7th and 8th graders advocating on the Hill for passage of the DREAM Act.
Last week marked the end of the second annual National Coming out of the Shadows Week, a rite of passage for undocumented youth — Americans in all but the eyes of the law — who support enactment of the DREAM Act. Publicly proclaiming one’s unauthorized immigration status is clearly a courageous act.