Why 'Deferred Action' Isn't Enough

Why 'Deferred Action' Isn't Enough

"Deferred action is a vague and confusing process—and it will probably lead to unscrupulous notarios entering the picture.  Under current regulations, individuals whose case has been deferred are eligible to receive employment authorization, provided he or she can demonstrate “an economic necessity for employment.”  Deferred action can be terminated or renewed at any time at the discretion of the Department of Homeland Security.  Many potential DREAMers will be hesitant to apply and “out” themselves to authorities, even in exchange for employment authorization, if the President is not re-elected.  The delays occasioned by schools being overwhelmed with transcript requests make it clear that this has been a complicated and expensive process, one with uncertain contours.  History may be on the side of the DREAMers, but they still find themselves in a cruel limbo not of their making, and with no clear way out of the thicket.  This is a movement forward, and the program will transform many of the students’ lives for the better.  But only the adults in Congress taking up immigration reform will truly serve their interests, and that of society.  Thirty years after the Supreme Court told us that undocumented immigrants deserve an education (Plyler v. Doe, 1982), we have yet to resolve this impasse.  Deferred action is a step in the right direction, but until more cases are cleared and these students can take up work, it will be a program fraught with potential.  While these students’ chances of being deported may be reduced, without employment authorization and a reasonable opportunity to regularize their status, they will still live in the shadows—with limited hope." - Michael A. Olivas is Professor of Law, University of Houston, and the author of No Undocumented Child Left Behind (NYU Press, 2102).