Students facing deportation test new Obama immigration policy
DETROIT, June 22, 2012: Two undocumented immigrant students currently in deportation proceedings presented themselves to U.S. immigration enforcement officials in Detroit today to test the week-old immigration “DREAM relief” announced by President Obama.
Nibardo Carrillo Aguilera of Detroit and Erika del Rio of Howell are eligible under the new program and came with their lawyers, dozens of community supporters and immigrant rights advocates to verify the promised reform. Both are under 30 years of age, were brought to the U.S. before they were 16, have no criminal records and have graduated from high schools in the United States or Puerto Rico.
“We’re grateful that President Obama took a bold step forward by offering relief to undocumented young people,” said Juan Sancen, an AIR student leader from Detroit, “However, we must verify that immigration officials will actually implement this program and stop the deportations. A student here with us today was even denied ‘prosecutorial discretion,’ so we know that there’s a lot of work to do. We have a lot of hope that ICE and the President will keep their word.”
Erika del Rio of Howell was brought to the U.S. from Mexico City at the age of 12. She is now 29 years old, studying psychology and photography at Lansing Community College. She is currently in deportation proceedings, and was actually denied relief previously under the so-called “prosecutorial discretion” program as set forth in the Morton Memo of 2011. But, as of last week, she should be eligible to stay in the U.S. without being prosecuted.
Nibardo Aguilera just graduated from César Chávez High School of Detroit, where he was a founding member and captain of the football team. Nibardo was also brought to the US at the age of 8, has no criminal convictions, and is facing deportation. His dream is to work and attend community college.
On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced a major change to deportation policy that would offer undocumented young people, with deep ties to the community and clean records, the opportunity to temporarily stop their deportations. The administrative “DREAM Relief” policy was modeled on aspects of the Development, Relief, Education, and Assistance to Minors (DREAM) Act.
“We congratulate the President for showing bold moral leadership, and recognizing that our country should not punish young people who contribute so much to our communities,” said Rev. Jack Eggleston of the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Southeast Michigan Synod and AIR leader. “But this is just a first step. We must continue the fight and move the hearts of Congress to finally pass comprehensive immigration reform and the DREAM Act.”