One of the best things that happened in 2012 was President Obama's June 15 announcement that his administration would stop deporting immigrant youth.

The administration's program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, has allowed kids who entered the United States without proper papers to apply for protection from deportation. The program gives them an opportunity to earn a work permit if they pass a background check and meet certain educational requirements.

To date, the program has been a tremendous success.

For Dreamers, as these immigrant youth call themselves, this was the opening chapter of their American dream.

Many have lived in the United States since their preschool years and have grown up to see their classmates and friends attend college, get driver's licenses, and work, while they -- hampered by their lack of immigration status -- could not. With deferred action in hand, a Dreamer can do so and enjoy a feeling of belonging in the only country they consider home.

Dreamers have been applying for deferred action in droves. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received more than 300,000 applications since the Aug. 15 program start date, and more than 102,000 of those applications have been approved.

This is especially momentous for my colleagues and me; we've worked with countless Dreamers to submit applications, and we celebrate with them when they received word that their applications were approved.

But perhaps the most important result of the deferred action program is the effect it has had on popular perception of immigrants.

By bringing Dreamers to the fore, the program has highlighted the human side of the immigrant experience. Dreamers tell a compelling story: of shattered college dreams, of painful family separations and of awkward conversations with life-long friends and love interests.

When Obama announced the program, 64 percent of Americans supported it, according to a Bloomberg News poll.

Given early estimates that more than 1 million individuals might qualify, many were skeptical that the administration would be able to pull it off. In fact, deferred action has been a reminder that when government agencies work with people, they can be remarkably efficient.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has organized calls and meetings with stakeholders, and has actively sought feedback from organizations and attorneys providing assistance to deferred action applicants. It has made decisions on applications in a timely manner. The rules have been relatively simple and the process straightforward.

Six months into this program, we've relearned that being American isn't about where you were born or what color your skin is; it's about what's in your character.

Unfortunately, too many family members of Dreamers cannot fully contribute to their communities and economies. Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals has been a good first step, but Washington shouldn't stop there.

Let's build on the success of the Deferred Action program to create an immigration system that recognizes the parents, siblings and grandparents of Dreamers for what they are: Americans at heart, waiting only for papers that identify them as such.

Kamal Essaheb is policy attorney at the National Immigration Law Center. He can be reached at

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Forty years ago the UN General Assembly passed a resolution against "hostile environmental modification techniques...

The beauty and the tragedy of everyday life in a war zone.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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