Bay Area's DREAM Act Leader Prerna Lal Responds to Obama's New Policy for Immigrant Youth
It's a remarkable feat for the hundreds of thousands of kids who were brought to the United States illegally. SF Weekly followed the stories of many of these local kids who until now were threatened by lingering deportation proceedings.
In April 2011, we wrote about Prerna Lal, one of the Bay Area's most vociferous leaders in the fight for legislation that would pave the path toward citizenship for illegal kids like herself. Lal, a Fiji native who came to the Bay Area when she was 14, became the poster child for our coverage of the DREAM Act. She has blogged extensively about the DREAM Act on Change.org and details her own predicament on her blog. She also helped found DreamActivist, the national organization of young immigrants who advocate for the passage of the DREAM Act.
Upon hearing the news today, Lal, who's been slammed with phone calls and e-mails all morning, posted some thoughtful comments on her own blog:
I am thrilled that my friends may be able to apply for it affirmatively or in proceedings, hopefully in 60 days.This is certainly bittersweet and my thoughts go out to everyone who has aged out, everyone deported and everyone, especially our friends Tam and Cintia, who are no longer with us, and everyone still languishing in detention. At the same time, I want everyone to exercise caution. This is not an executive order. This is a further exercise of discretion, dressed up as an executive order. No one should be turning themselves over to ICE. We've to wait and see how this is implemented. Please talk to your lawyer or consult an AILA attorney if you have questions.Obama's new policy won't grant these kids a permanent path to residency, but it will stall deportation for a select group of kids who meet certain criteria. Immigrant kids must meet the following criteria to qualify:
- Be 15-30 years old, and have entered the country before age 16
- Have been present in the U.S. for five years as of June 15, 2012
- Have maintained continuous residence
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety
- Be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.