WBEZ | DACA http://www.wbez.org/tags/daca Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en U.S. mulls letting young illegal immigrants enlist http://www.wbez.org/news/us-mulls-letting-young-illegal-immigrants-enlist-110201 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/DurbinMilitaryTHUMB_0.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>President Barack Obama&rsquo;s administration may allow military enlistment by thousands of immigrants living in the country illegally, a top U.S. Department of Defense official said Monday.<br /><br />Jessica L. Wright, the department&rsquo;s acting undersecretary for personnel and readiness, described the immigrants, known as DREAMers, as &ldquo;some of the best and brightest in America that we could capitalize on.&rdquo;</p><p>Wright said the decision would come by summer&rsquo;s end and involved the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice and the White House.<br /><br />Her comments came at a Chicago hearing held by U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois), chair of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, who wants the Obama administration to open the military to immigrants eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and provide them a path to citizenship. DACA, a program set up by the administration in 2012, has provided work papers and deportation reprieves to hundreds of thousands of youths.<br /><br />Federal law limits military enlistment to U.S. nationals and legal permanent residents but allows exceptions if &ldquo;vital to the national interest.&rdquo; In 2008, President George W. Bush&rsquo;s administration made exceptions for immigrant enlistees with certain language and health-care skills.</p><p>Durbin held the hearing at Phoenix Military Academy, a public high school on Chicago&rsquo;s West Side and the site of a large Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program. The witnesses included uniformed Phoenix students living in the country illegally.</p><p>One of them, Jessica Calderón, a junior at the school, said her mother sent her to the United States from Mexico at age 3. &ldquo;I was raised in America and really consider myself to be a citizen even though some numbers and papers do not say so,&rdquo; Calderón said.<br /><br />Calderón said her dream is to attend the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and, from there, become an Army officer. &ldquo;The only thing that holds me back from accomplishing my goals is my status as an undocumented immigrant,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>Durbin said it was time for the United States to open the military to Calderón and other young unauthorized immigrants who would benefit from stalled legislation known as the DREAM Act.</p><p>&ldquo;The question is this,&rdquo; Durbin said. &ldquo;Will America be a stronger country if we deport our DREAMers to countries they barely remember or if we allow them to contribute more fully to the country whose flag they&rsquo;ve pledged allegiance to every day they&rsquo;ve been in school?&rdquo;<br /><br />Durbin pointed to the military&rsquo;s history. &ldquo;Back in World War II, when the nation was divided by race, even much worse than it is today, President Roosevelt decided to end racial discrimination in the recruitment of men and women into the military,&rdquo; the senator said. &ldquo;So, in a way, the military has been a leader in America as we&rsquo;ve evolved on issues like race.&rdquo;</p><p>But the idea of opening the armed services to these unauthorized immigrants &mdash; and providing them a path to citizenship &mdash; is drawing fire from two directions.</p><p>Outside the hearing, a dozen peace activists chanted through a megaphone and spoke to reporters. &ldquo;We oppose strongly this idea of Durbin&rsquo;s that undocumented young people should be cannon fodder for the U.S. military in these endless wars,&rdquo; Laura Guerra of Chicago said.</p><p>Durbin&rsquo;s push is also stirring up some conservatives. Last week a House Republican leader <a href="http://bigstory.ap.org/article/fight-looming-military-immigration-measure" target="_blank">indicated he would block</a> a similar proposal.</p><p>Daniel Horowitz, policy director of a Tea Party campaign-funding group called the Madison Project, said allowing illegal immigrants to enlist would send the wrong message. &ldquo;Join the military and you get legal status,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />Horowitz also warned of what he called a military security threat. &ldquo;We certainly don&rsquo;t want to invite in bad actors who have very shady backgrounds, no documentation,&rdquo; he said.<br /><br />But Calderón, the high-school student born in Mexico, assured the audience at the hearing that she has only one loyalty. &ldquo;I pledge allegiance to this nation every day and I wouldn&rsquo;t feel comfortable defending any other nation but America,&rdquo; she testified. &ldquo;I will never stop working as hard as I can until I get to serve this nation.&rdquo;</p><p><em><a href="http://www.wbez.org/users/cmitchell-0">Chip Mitchell</a> is WBEZ&rsquo;s West Side bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/ChipMitchell1">@ChipMitchell1</a> and <a href="https://twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>, and connect with him through <a href="https://www.facebook.com/chipmitchell1">Facebook</a>, <a href="https://plus.google.com/111079509307132701769" rel="me">Google+</a> and <a href="http://www.linkedin.com/in/ChipMitchell1">LinkedIn</a>.</em></p></p> Mon, 19 May 2014 18:08:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/us-mulls-letting-young-illegal-immigrants-enlist-110201 Driver licenses for undocumented youths? http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/immigrant%20map.jpg" style="margin: 4px 0px 0px 0px; float: left; height: 369px; width: 600px; " title="WBEZ asked eight states whether they are planning to provide driver’s licenses to immigrants who receive Social Security and employment-authorization cards as a result of President Barack Obama’s “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” policy. (WBEZ map by Elliott Ramos)" /></p><p>Illinois, Indiana, Michigan and Ohio are planning to provide driver&rsquo;s licenses to undocumented immigrants who get work papers under a new federal policy.</p><p>The Obama administration policy, called &ldquo;Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,&rdquo; will allow as many as 1.7 million illegal immigrants brought to the United States as children to get Social Security and employment-authorization cards, along with a deportation reprieve. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting applications Aug. 15.</p><p>&ldquo;As long as the Social Security Administration issues an individual with a Social Security number, and they have the other documents that are required under Illinois law, then they can apply for a driver&rsquo;s license,&rdquo; said Henry Haupt, spokesman for Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, who oversees that state&rsquo;s driver licensing.</p><p>WBEZ surveyed eight Midwestern states about their response to the policy change. Along with the four states planning to provide licenses, Wisconsin and Iowa officials said they had not decided yet, while Minnesota and Missouri officials did not respond to numerous WBEZ inquiries.</p><p>The states planning to issue the driver&rsquo;s licenses differ from Arizona, Nebraska and Texas, where governors have vowed to block illegal immigrants from getting licenses.</p><p>The immigrants must meet several requirements to get the Social Security and work-authorization cards, including having been younger than 31 on June 15; having arrived in the U.S. before turning 16; having lived in the country continuously since June 2007; being a student or graduate, or having served in the military; and having no serious criminal record nor posing any public safety threat. The work authorization will last up to two years and, if the federal policy stays in place, be renewable. The policy does not provide a path to citizenship.</p><p>Assuming some of the immigrants have been driving illegally, states that enable them to get a license could make roads safer. &ldquo;They have to pass the road exam, they have to pass the written exam, and they pass the vision test,&rdquo; Haupt said about Illinois. &ldquo;We require so many different things of our young drivers and &mdash; by doing so &mdash; they, of course, become better drivers.&rdquo;</p><p>Illinois also requires proof of liability insurance on the car the driver uses for the road test. So it&rsquo;s possible that allowing undocumented immigrants to drive legally could reduce the number of uninsured vehicles.</p><p>The immigrants themselves have more at stake. Karen Siciliano Lucas, an advocacy attorney of the Washington-based Catholic Legal Immigration Network Inc., points out that driver&rsquo;s licenses are vital for working and attending school in most regions of the country. &ldquo;Not only that, it is a state-issued identification that shows who you are,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>The issue is complicated because most states require driver&rsquo;s&nbsp;license applicants to prove &ldquo;lawful status&rdquo; or &ldquo;legal presence&rdquo; in the United States. Officials in some states say the work authorization under the Obama policy will be sufficient proof. But a USCIS statement says the policy &ldquo;does not confer lawful status upon an individual.&rdquo; It&rsquo;s unclear whether courts will enable states to define lawful status differently than the federal government does.</p><p>States expecting Obama administration guidance about the driver&rsquo;s licenses could be waiting awhile. In response to WBEZ questions, the Department of Homeland Security sent a statement saying the department does not comment on state-specific matters.</p><p>Until federal courts weigh in, states are likely to face lawsuits no matter their course. &ldquo;We will see battles on this,&rdquo; Lucas predicted.</p><p>Making matters more complicated is the federal Real ID Act, a 2005 law aimed at fighting identity theft and keeping terrorists out of federal buildings and airplanes. Among other things, the act requires states to verify that driver&rsquo;s license applicants have lawful status in the United States.</p><p>The law is set to take effect in January, but it&rsquo;s not clear how the Obama administration will enforce it. DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano has fought for the measure&rsquo;s repeal, calling it unworkable.</p><p>That irks advocates for tougher immigration enforcement: &ldquo;If you want to protect against identify theft, you&rsquo;ve got to eliminate the fraud,&rdquo; said Janice Kephart, who focuses on national security policies for the Washington-based Center for Immigration Studies. &ldquo;That means you have to eliminate the illegal-alien community out of that scheme. It doesn&rsquo;t mean that states cannot give driver&rsquo;s licenses to illegal aliens. It just means that they have to do it outside the Real ID Act.&rdquo;</p><p>Kephart praised Utah, which has created a &ldquo;driving privilege card&rdquo; specifically for undocumented immigrants.</p><p>At the moment the only other states that let undocumented immigrants drive legally are New Mexico and Washington, which provide them the same licenses that U.S. citizens can get.</p></p> Mon, 27 Aug 2012 13:19:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/driver-licenses-undocumented-youths-101986