[Infographic] 5 things Obama can do right now to provide relief to the undocumented community. #WeCantWait

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Record-level immigration enforcement policies have sliced our families apart, cut short young people’s dreams and thrown immigrant families into financial and emotional turmoil as tens of thousands of parents are locked up in immigration detention facilities each day. United We Dream– the largest national network of immigrant youth organizations in the United States –has fought long and hard to push Congress to resolve our community’s problems through legislation. We believe that the President must act now to reunify families that have been torn apart by enforcement, stop the record-level deportations, and provide families and all Dreamers with relief necessary to work and live here with peace of mind. Thus, we write to ask that you support our demands to the Obama Administration outlined below.

1. DHS must create an affirmative relief program to ensure that immigrants with family or community ties in the U.S. can live and work without fear of deportation

  • Family unity considerations must override eligibility determinations in cases where an individual does not otherwise meet the criteria for relief.
  • The same criteria that makes an individual eligible for an affirmative deferred action program should allow that individual to request consideration for parole-in-place, if a grant of parole would permit that individual to move forward with a more permanent relief option.
  • An affirmative relief program must not exclude low-income families.

2. DHS must ensure that all Dreamers fully benefit from the DACA program

  • Raise the age of entry requirement from 16 to 18;
  • Allow Dreamers who are currently in the labor force and unable to meet DACA’s education guidelines to qualify for the program;
  • Remove the age cap;
  • Create a fee waiver to allow all individuals at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Level to be exempt from the costs associated with DACA;
  • Grant DACA for a period of five years at a time rather than for two years;
  • Eliminate the “significant misdemeanor” bar to DACA;
  • Impose a requirement that an individual must serve an aggregate of 365 days in order for their criminal record to bar them from the program;
  • Modify the cut-off date of entry from June 15th, 2007 to two years prior to the date of application for the program;
  • Grant DACA applicants parole-in-place if they request consideration for such relief on their deferred action application and are otherwise eligible for the program;
  • Grant DACA recipients an employment authorization document with an accompanying grant of advance parole;

3. DHS must redress the extraordinary pain caused by forced family separations

  • Create a humanitarian parole program for: deported spouses, long-term partners, parents and children of individuals who are lawfully present in the United States if these individuals have lived in the U.S. previously and developed ties here; and for Dreamers who were deported or forced to leave the United States due to the limited opportunities available to them here prior to the creation of the DACA program.
  • Grant employment authorization documents that permit individuals who receive deferred action through DACA or an affirmative relief program to travel and return to the United States with advance parole at any point during their grant of deferred action.

4. DHS must reformulate its method for exercising prosecutorial discretion to ensure that our communities aren’t continuously torn apart

  • Revise the priority categories in the Morton memos to ensure that individuals with minor convictions and family or community ties are not swept up by immigration enforcement authorities.
  • Extend the effect of the prosecutorial discretion memoranda to CBP.
  • ICE and CBP must adopt a uniform mechanism by which to make prosecutorial discretion determinations. Placing a burden on ICE and CBP to rebut a presumption that deportation would cause hardship would produce positive improvements in this respect.
  • DHS should create a supervisory review process within ICE and CBP to oversee ICE and CBP’s decision to initiate proceedings against individuals.
  • The Administration should create a mechanism whereby all individuals who are placed in removal proceedings are guaranteed the opportunity to request consideration for prosecutorial discretion through USCIS. ICE and CBP must bear the processing costs associated with USCIS’ determination.

5. DHS must roll back the use of immigration detention to bring immediate freedom to our community currently behind bars 

  • DHS should release all immigrants who are not subject to mandatory detention on their own recognizance immediately.
  • President Obama should direct the Department of Justice to redefine “alternatives to detention” as being considered “in custody” for individuals who are subject to mandatory detention and to offer individualized bond hearings in a timely manner to individuals in prolonged mandatory detention.
  • Finally, United We Dream stands with our allies in calling for the effective implementation of up-to-date detention standards and in shutting down the most inhumane facilities, including the Etowah County Detention Facility in Alabama.

These proposals serve as our movement’s top five demands for meaningful administrative reforms that protect family unity and the rights of young people. However, we stand in solidarity with the many branches of the immigrant rights movement that continue to advocate for greater accountability at the border, ending programs that engage state and local police in immigration enforcement and criminalize our community, and greater civil rights and workers’ rights protections in immigration enforcement, and others. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss these concerns further, and thank you for your consideration of the proposals outlined above.

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