Despite lot of buzz that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would provide new information today regarding deferred action for certain undocumented youth (“Dream Act deferred action”), August 1 came and went with no new information from DHS and no announcement as to when additional information may be forthcoming. In the June 15, 2012 memorandum announcing Dream Act deferred action, DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano instructed the Citizenship & Immigration Service and Immigration & Customs Enforcement to establish procedures for receiving deferred action application by August 15. With two weeks left before that deadline, DHS had indicated that additional guidance would be forthcoming on August 1. Unfortunately, there was silence from both components today, raising concerns that DHS will be unable to meet the deadline of August 15, 2012.
It is essential that the agencies deliver on the promises made by President Obama and Secretary Napolitano. Failure to live up to deadlines will only further inflame the substantial skepticism that DHS will follow through after the political benefit has been gotten and the glare of the cameras fades. Moreover, it will empower those anti-immigrant wingnuts who will use the DHS’ failure to deliver as evidence that the agency is far too dysfunctional to secure the border and to implement any type of comprehensive reform.
However, a note of restraint is also appropriate. Those of us who have watched DHS (and before that INS) for a longtime know that the agency treats deadlines as suggestions. We will continue to watch for word from DHS and to avoid panicking. For now.