Relief From Deportation–Is It Enough?

Courtesy of Bart Heird / Flickr

On August 3rd the Department of Homeland Security provided detailed criteria for its “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” initiative. According to the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), 1.76 million unauthorized immigrants brought to the US as children will get a 2 year reprieve from deportation if they meet the following criteria.

  • Entered the United States before the age of 16
  • Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007 and up to the present time, and were physically present on June 15, 2012 and at the time of application
  • Are currently in school, have graduated from high school or earned a GED, or are honorably discharged veterans of the US armed forces (including the Coast Guard)
  • Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, or three or more misdemeanors; or otherwise pose a threat to public safety or national security
  • Entered the country illegally or over-stayed their visa prior to June 15, 2012.

MPI calculates that 800,000 of those affected by the deferred action initiative are children in our K-12 education system.  That means that in 2 years, 800,000 children will be deported and their education will be interrupted.  So that means that children who are in the 9th grade now and have spent their childhoods in the United States, will not be able to graduate from an American High School because they will be deported. What are the unanticipated consequences of these criteria?  Will students drop out of school in 2 years for fear of being found and deported? Nobody knows exactly what will happen and how they will be educated, but what I do know for sure is that a two year reprieve is not enough time for the children.  Children will be deported to countries where they may not speak the language, where they may not be able to read, and where they will need significant time to readjust and re-acculturate. We don’t need a 2 year reprieve, we need at least a 12 year reprieve!

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