Thomas A. Saenz Statement on President’s Decision to Provide Relief for Undocumented Youth

Today, MALDEF President and General Counsel, Thomas A. Saenz, released a statement in response to President Obama’s decision to provide relief to undocumented youth who have lived in the United States for most of their lives.

According to a memo from Secretary Napolitano, on a case-by-case basis, undocumented youth shall be immune from deportation through deferred action for two years renewable, and be able to obtain work authorization, if they came to U.S. before the age of sixteen, and are currently under thirty; have resided in the country for at least five years previous to this decision; are currently in school, have graduated from high school, or received a GED; and have not been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor.

Stated Thomas A. Saenz, MALDEF President and General Counsel:

“Today’s bold Obama Administration announcement holds out the promise of significant, even transformative, benefit to the entire nation by ensuring that some of our most capable and committed young people are finally given the opportunity to work and to safely contribute to our economic competitiveness and our national development. Today’s announcement is the clear product of the hard work of those same DREAM students to enlighten the nation and its policymakers.

“We look forward to swift, fair, and comprehensive nationwide implementation of the important administrative steps announced today on this thirtieth anniversary of the prescient Supreme Court decision in Plyler v. Doe, which established the importance to our national future of educating all students.

“This administrative action is consistent with the DREAM Act, supported by a majority of both houses of Congress in 2010 but blocked only through a craven Senate exercise of the hoary power of filibuster. Congress should move swiftly to enact the DREAM Act as a longterm guarantee and protection of the powerful national resource embodied in the DREAM student population.

“We also call upon Governor Mitt Romney to commit, if elected, to following the wise national policy announced today as a policy that is in the clear best interests of the entire nation.”

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