US Catholic Faith in Real Life

A reprieve--No path to citizenship

By Father Tom Joyce, CMF | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

President Barack Obama announced a new policy of the immigration status of the “Dreamers”--undocumented youths brought here at an early age by their parents--and it immediately dominated the presidential campaign. It had been a bad week for the president, but he caught the Republicans totally by surprise.

What the president announced in the Rose Garden is not new--it’s a cut-down version of the Dream Act that almost passed two years ago. To qualify, an individual must have been brought to this country when under 16 years old, lived continuously in this country for five years, be a student or serve in the military, and have a clean criminal record. The policy would apply to those under 30 years. It is not a path to citizenship. As the president observed, only Congress can grant that. It is “a deferral of departure” for two years, which the president is granting by executive order. It can, however, be renewed and makes an individual eligible to work--and probably get a driver’s license.