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Immigration Relief for “DREAMers”

Dream ActLast week President Obama announced a new policy to provide immigration relief to qualified immigrant youth and young adults who came to the United States at a young age; who consider America to be their home country; and who, though here illegally, are not here as a result of intentionally breaking the law.

“This policy relates to young people – some of whom were brought to the US as babies – who can now come out of the shadows. Not only will immigrant youth no longer have to fear deportation, but they’ll be able to get social security numbers and driver’s licenses, and really live their lives and contribute to their communities”, stated Hilary Greene, Director of the Berkshire Immigrant Center.

The policy will enable eligible people to apply for “deferred action” status which will grant them relief from deportation for two years. They will also be able to apply for work authorization, so they can support themselves and their families. After the two years are over, they can reapply for an extension of those benefits.

The new policy will likely affect an estimated 800,000 to 1,000,000 young people ages 15-30 approximately 100 of whom are currently residing in Berkshire County. These individuals are often referred to as “DREAMers” based on the Dream Act which was first introduced in Congress in 2001.

“This is the most active and important piece of immigration reform that has happened in years”, cited Greene. “It does not encompass all of the facets that the current Dream Act does, such as providing a pathway to legal permanent residency, but it shows that President Obama is committed to America’s immigrant youth and to working toward comprehensive immigration reform. This is a good move for our country. Some of these young people are the best and brightest in their high school classes, but are held back from being able to find jobs and continue their educations.  Now they will be able to participate fully in their communities and to contribute to our culture and economy.”

This form of relief is not yet in affect and is pending protocol from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). USCIS will create an application process in the next 60 days.  The Berkshire Immigrant Center is a local resource for determining eligibility and will assist individuals with application processing after the government has created protocols in mid-August.  At that time, the Center will also hold a free deferred action workshop for potential applicants and the general public.

The Berkshire Immigrant Center will work to ensure the widest access possible to this process for eligible low-income and vulnerable applicants. Additional information can be found on the Center’s website at:  www.berkshireic.comor at www.uscis.gov.  For more information, please contact the Center at (413) 445-4881 or email info@berkshireic.com.


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