On June 15, 2012 President Obama signed an executive order that affirmed a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) initiative to defer some deportation actions on some individuals. This policy, known as “deferred action” or “prosecutorial discretion,” has been discussed and analyzed but the true effects of the program nationally are seldom discussed with any clarity. This initiative will have a positive effect on Southeast Georgia as it will allow many young adults who came to this country with their parents many years ago as young children to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a two-year work permit.
This program is not open to everyone. You must prove that you: (a) were brought to this country prior to your sixteenth birthday; (b) have been here for five consecutive years; (c) have a high school diploma or its equivalent; and (d) have no serious criminal history. The government insists that these restrictions will ensure that we are not rewarding adults who came here illegally on their own volition, while also making sure that those young people who are eligible are educated and otherwise upstanding members of the community.
The immediate impact here in Appling County will be that many young people who have been here the majority of their lives and who have been through Appling County Schools will be able to apply for legal employment. This will give our local merchants, business owners and famers access to a new pool of young and hard working people who actively seek legal employment. Because they are legally employable, Appling County employers will benefit from an increased labor pool and these young people who have lived in the U.S. practically all their lives and been educated here will be able to compete for jobs with other people their age on a level playing field. It will also help U.S. citizens who will not be denied work because the job was filled by cheaper immigrant labor.
The second major impact will be that these work permits will allow these individuals to obtain drivers’ licenses. This benefits the community because it will ensure that young drivers go through the proper education and ability screening that all licensed drivers must pass to be licensed. Being licensed will also allow them to obtain proper insurance.
This initiative will not grant legal status to these individuals nor will it provide for a pathway to citizenship. This aspect is the key difference between this policy and the DREAM Act that would provide for a pathway to citizenship.
If you have any questions about deferred action or how to apply for it, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.