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Durbin, Foster at Aurora University

The office of U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, issued the following news release:

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, and U.S. Rep. Bill Foster, D-Naperville, met with current and former students at Aurora University who have benefitted from the Obama Administration’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. DACA, which is modeled after Durbin’s DREAM Act, allows young immigrants brought to the United States as children a chance to apply for a two-year renewable work permit and exemption from deportation.

“President Obama’s decision to grant deferred action to Dreamers was a historic moment for human rights in our country,” Durbin said. “The United States is the only home these talented people have ever known, and now they have a chance to live and work here temporarily without fear. This is what I had in mind when I first authored the DREAM Act twelve years ago, and it was a pleasure to meet some of the talented young people who have taken advantage of the program. Now Congress needs to pass comprehensive immigration reform to fix our broken immigration system and give these young people and their families a chance to earn their citizenship.”

“People often ask me why I would want to return to Congress with all the fighting, frustrations and partisan gridlock, and I tell them it’s because of the opportunity to vote on important legislation like the DREAM Act,” Foster said. “We shouldn’t be pushing away talented young students from the only home they have ever known, we should give them a chance to succeed and become successful, productive members of our communities. President Obama’s deferred action for Dreamers was in important first step, but it’s time we pass comprehensive immigration reform that provides law enforcement officials with the tools they need to secure our borders, a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants already in the country, and a more secure and efficient system for legal immigration.”

Under DACA, certain young immigrants brought to the country by their parents may apply for deferred action – a temporary form of relief from deportation for a period of two years, subject to renewal – and for work authorization. Those young people must have come to the United States under the age of sixteen; have lived in the United States continuously since June 15, 2007; be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED or have been honorably discharged from the military; have not been convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or three or misdemeanors and not pose a threat to public safety; and be 30 years old or younger as of June 15, 2012.

As of March 14, more than 23,000 young people in Illinois had applied for DACA and nearly 18,000 applicants had already been approved, the fourth-highest total of any state.  Nationally, more than 453,000 people have applied and more than 245,000 applications have been approved.

DACA is modeled after Durbin’s DREAM Act, which he first introduced in 2001 and has pushed for over a decade.  The DREAM Act – short for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors – is a narrowly tailored bill to give undocumented students a chance to earn legal status if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents, have good moral character, and complete two years of college or serve honorably in the military.

Three years ago, Senator Durbin and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) asked the Department of Homeland Security to suspend the deportations of DREAM Act students by granting them deferred action.  They were joined in that request by an additional 21 Senators the following year.  The Obama Administration responded to the Senators’ request by establishing the DACA program.

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