WASHINGTON (JTA) — A number of Jewish organizations praised President Obama for deferring the deportation of young illegal immigrants.
The new requirements are for people younger than 30 who came to the U.S. before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military.
These immigrants are now able to apply for two-year deferrals of deportation. If approved, those that meet the requirements would be able to apply for work permits in the U.S.
“This is a major success for advocates around the country, including many from the Jewish community, who have been pressuring the Administration and Congress to take action on this issue for over a decade,” said Mark Hetfield, Interim president and CEO of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, which has spoken out publicly in support of the DREAM Act, a similar measure defeated in Congress in 2010.
Rabbi David Saperstein, president of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, emphasized in a separate statement that “the law-abiding young women and men who were brought to the United States by undocumented parents will now have the opportunity to thrive in the country they know as home without the looming specter of possible deportation.”
Nancy Kaufman, CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), stated in a press release that the administration’s “new policy will end the inhumane and mindless practice of deporting young people who came to the US as children, have grown up and been educated here, and who are already or soon will be productive members of our society.”
The Anti-Defamation League called the decision “an appropriate exercise of prosecutorial discretion” and “a responsible and important step in the right direction toward comprehensive immigration reform.
“It means that as many as 800,000 young immigrants who have grown up in our communities and led exemplary lives will no longer live in fear of arrest or deportation because of their citizenship status,” the ADL said.
National Jewish Democratic Council president and CEO David Harris and chair Marc Stanley cast the decision as one having special Jewish resonance.
“American Jews — as descendants of immigrants, if not immigrants ourselves — understand profoundly what it means to have a shot at success in America,” said Harris and Stanley in a statement. “The provisions announced by the President today provide that opportunity.”