Press Contact: Jon Pattee, LIRS Assistant Director for Media Relations
BALTIMORE, MD June 15, 2012 – Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) applauds the Obama Administration for announcing it will halt deportations and grant work permits to undocumented immigrant youth who have no criminal record and meet certain criteria such as military service or educational achievement.
“Since 2010 we’ve been calling on the Administration to stop deporting young people who are contributing so much to our communities,” said LIRS President and CEO Linda Hartke. “We applaud President Obama and the Administration for today’s bold announcement of this urgently needed policy change.”
Under the change, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will stop deporting undocumented immigrant youth and allow them to obtain work permits if they arrived in the United States before they turned 16 and are younger than 30, have no criminal record, have been in the United States for at least five consecutive years, graduated from a U.S. high school or hold a GED, or served in the military.
“LIRS and Lutherans across America welcome the President’s decision, which gives these young people, who are our classmates and family, members of our churches and communities, the right to stay in the U.S. and look for jobs,” said Hartke. “They have much to give back to America, and they deserve a chance to fulfill their dreams.”
The young people affected by this policy are known as “DREAMers” after the DREAM Act. Although most Republicans voted against the DREAM Act in 2010, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Rep. David Rivera (R-FL-25), and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney recently expressed support for different versions of the DREAM Act. The legislation, which failed in the Senate in late 2010, is aimed at providing DREAMers with a path to U.S. citizenship. It has stalled in limbo for a decade, but some within the GOP have signalled openness to striking a deal that would find a solution acceptable to both sides.
“This announcement builds on bipartisan interest in protecting immigrant youth from deportation and investing in them as future leaders of our great nation,” said Hartke. “While more work is needed to pass the DREAM Act to provide these youth with permanency and a path to citizenship, we applaud President Obama for this bold move.”
LIRS and its Lutheran constituency have longstanding commitment and leadership on the DREAM Act on Capitol Hill and within communities across the country where its 60 grassroots legal and social service partners work.
LIRS is nationally recognized for its leadership advocating on behalf of refugees, asylum seekers, unaccompanied children, immigrants in detention, families fractured by migration and other vulnerable populations, and for providing services to migrants through over 60 grassroots legal and social service partners across the United States.