Every child growing up in America deserves the opportunity to become a productive member of society and achieve their dreams. Withholding legal status from these children not only hurts them, but it deprives America of future generations of dedicated citizens, innovators, entrepreneurs and public servants. The Episcopal Church General Convention passed a resolution in 2009 (B006) in support of these members of our communities, standing beside them and advocating with them in our shared search for justice.
Today, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano used the authority that resides in her office to take our immigration enforcement one step closer to the justice we seek, granting these youth protection from deportation and the opportunity to live and work in the country they call home.
This change in enforcement priorities, part of the larger Department of Homeland Security policy of prosecutorial discretion, will give undocumented youth the ability to apply for a two-year "deferred action" that effectively removes the threat of deportation for up to two years, offers a chance to apply for work authorization and allows for repeated extensions.
While the Episcopal Church welcomes this change as it will offer relief to nearly one million students who live in fear of deportation, this change cannot confer a pathway to citizenship and does not remove the need for reform of our immigration system. Congress must make reforms to our immigration system that support the dignity of every person, unites families, and provides undocumented individuals with established roots in the United States a pathway to legalization (GC '09).