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October 29, 2012 | Volume 87, Number 26

COMMENTARY

Achieving the DREAM

For decades the Catholic Church has advocated for more humane U.S. Immigration laws which promote the safety and stability of vulnerable families.

The DREAM Act (Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors) was proposed to provide permanent residency to certain undocumented residents of good moral character who arrived in the United States as children, graduated from a U.S. high school and lived in the country continuously. It has been debated on Capitol Hill for many years but has yet to be enacted by Congress.

This June, President Obama announced that the Department of Homeland Security would no longer deport qualified undocumented young people who entered the country before age 16 and will grant, on a case-by-case basis, deferred action and work authorization for a two year period to those who meet certain criteria.

This effort does not replace congressional action to create a pathway to citizenship, but it will allow young people who know no other home but the USA to stop living in fear and participate freely in building their community.

Marilyn Breslow is Division Director, Immigration Counseling at Commonwealth Catholic Charities in Richmond.

Commonwealth Catholic Charities (CCC) is assisting those who qualify to complete applications for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The agency’s immigration counselors in Richmond, Newport News and Roanoke can help applicants understand the program requirements and potential risks, and provide assistance in pulling together the documentation needed to prove continuous residence and other standards.

The Department of Homeland Security has stated that petitioners will not be permitted to appeal or re-apply should their application be denied so careful preparation is essential.

Appointments can be made in Richmond, by calling: 804-285-5900; Newport News: 757-247-3600 ext 12; and Roanoke: 540-342-7651 ext 304.

At CCC I have met with many wonderful young people who had no say on where they grew up. They yearn to come out of the shadows and work hard to achieve the American dream. This is a brief opportunity to do so.

For more information and assistance in filing for deferred action, see the contact information above.

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