Under 30 Reprieve Doesn’t Protect Legal Immigrants

Twenty-year-old Lauren Gray was brought to the country with her younger sister Gemma by her parents from England at the age of four. In the 17 years that she has lived here, she has been legally living here due to her parents’ green card. Like many young women born in the United States, she was a high school cheerleader and graduated from college with a dance degree. However, when Lauren turns 21 on August 8, she will be living in the country illegally.

While many children of immigrants have been rejoicing since President Obama’s announcement that he would ease deportations of undocumented youth. To qualify, undocumented individuals must be under the age of 30, have graduated high school and/or college, be an honorably discharged veteran and have a clean legal background.  Although Gray meets most of this criteria, the fact that she was brought into the United States legally ironically disqualifies her for Obama’s executive order.

Within recent years, Congress altered the policy to prevent cases like Gray’s going through. Since her parents arrived to the country on an E-2 visa, Gray will no longer be a dependent of her parents come her next birthday. According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, an E-2 visa is a non-immigrant classification that allows a citizen of a treaty country to invest in a United States business that will employ United States citizens.

Her parents business currently employ many of the individuals living in their small Missouri town, and many of the residents are upset to hear the news. Gray, although hopeful, is nervous about her possible move to London and wants to remain in the United States, where she’s made a life for herself.

“I’ve done everything right,” she said. “I’ve been part of every community I’ve belonged to. Then to be told you’re not welcome anymore? I definitely think it is my right as a human being to live here and stay here. Isn’t it supposed to be a welcoming country, a melting-pot country?”