Immigrant activists vow to work hard to keep Deferred Action policy as-is

students laptop

Leslie Berestein Rojas

A Dream Act sticker on a college student's laptop in Los Angeles in 2010. Federal immigration enforcement agents are suing their own agency over the policy, but immigration activists vow they’ll work hard to maintain it as is.

Starting this month, undocumented immigrants under 30 and without criminal records can apply to avoid deportation for at least two years. Advocates for that policy estimate that it will assist slightly more than 1.5 million people.

Some critics have called the policy an amnesty for illegal entrants; others complain that it doesn’t offer immigrants who arrived in this country as children a path to U.S. citizenship. Despite criticism from both sides of the aisle, thousands of people across the country are applying — and amid the surge, ten federal immigration agents have sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Chris Crane, president of the National ICE Council and a plaintiff in the suit, says when he and colleagues follow the new policy, they “have to disobey immigration law and their oaths to uphold it.”

Immigrant activists are pushing back against the lawsuit, including Fia Campos, an undocumented immigrant who works with activist group DREAM Team L.A.

“As immigrant youth here in California, we will not stand for something that will separate our families," Campos says, "something that will hurt our economy here in the U.S., and something that will hurt our access to education. [W]e know that immigrant youth do and will continue to be an important and integral part of that path to generate a better economy.”

Several lawmakers have expressed support for the ICE agents’ lawsuit, including Congressman Lamar Smith of Texas. Smith says the new policy runs counter to federal immigration law and threatens job prospects for Americans during an economic downturn.

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