Update on . . .
Deferred Action Program
June 19, 2012
Mooers Immigration has received many inquiries regarding President Obama’s June 15, 2012 announcement to implement certain provisions of the DREAM Act through administrative determinations. The large amount of interest in this initiative means that immigrant communities in our region and across the country understand that the President’s action could be the answer (at least a partial answer) to their prayers. Unfortunately, it also means that notarios, immigration consultants and other purveyors of immigration fraud are already preying on unsuspecting immigrants.
To bring everyone up to date on the status of this new program, called “Deferred Action”, Mooers Immigration is providing this update. Our plan is to provide future updates as we learn more about the President’s program. Please feel free to share this with families, individuals, businesses, schools and organizations that will be impacted by this program.
Here is what we know:
Deferred Action will give qualifying individuals several benefits. They will be able to work, obtain a Social Security Number and know that they will be free from deportation for the length of the program. Approvals will be granted for an initial 2-year period, and will be renewable.
However, this is NOT currently a path to a Green Card or to Citizenship. This benefit will also NOT EXTEND to family members. Everyone must qualify on his or her own.
Here are the Eligibility Requirements for Deferred Action as announced by USCIS and ICE:
- Arrived in US before 16th birthday;
- Resided continuously in US for at least 5 years BEFORE June 15, 2012;
- Was present in the US on June 15, 2012;
- Currently in school,
- Graduated from high school,
- Have obtained a GED, or
- Are honorable discharged from Armed Forces or Coast Guard
- Has not been convicted of:
- “Significant misdemeanor” offense,
- Three misdemeanor offenses, or
- “Otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety”
- Be between 15 and 30 years of age.
Notice that the rules DO NOT make a difference between those who overstayed their visas, entered the country without authorization, or who are currently here legally in a status that does not allow them to work.
Expected activities in the coming weeks:
a) Announcement by USCIS regarding how it will handle Deferred Action;
b) Publication of the required forms (there is currently no formal form for this benefit), filing fees and other important details;
c) Potential court action by immigrant foes to block the Obama Administration from pursuing its Deferred Action program;
d) USCIS is under orders from the President to begin implementing the program by August 15, 2012.
Here is our current understanding of how the program will work:
1) The process will require each applicant to prove that he or she meets each of the eligibility requirements. The Government will not grant Deferred Action without the applicant providing evidence about each criterion.
2) For those familiar with the Temporary Protected Status (TPS), the Deferred Action program may have a similar feel.
3) The USCIS Director indicated in a conference call on Monday that there may be no end date to the sign-up period for Deferred Action. This may likely mean that many of those who do not currently qualify may be able to qualify in the future, including:
- High School early leavers (formerly known as “drop-outs”): They can return to school to pursue a GED or High School diploma to gain eligibility.
- Children under 15 years of age: Once they turn 15 they should be able apply.
4) The definition of “Significant Misdemeanor” is very broad. This is important because a single offense makes an individual ineligible for Deferred Action. Significant Misdemeanor includes: Driving Under the Influence; “violence, threats, or assault,” including domestic violence; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution or the scene of an accident; unlawful possession of a firearm; drug distribution, trafficking, or possession.
5) The potential for indirect adverse impact on family members who do not qualify for Deferred Action still awaits additional clarification.
- The ICE and USCIS directors claim that they will use the 2011 Prosecutorial Discretion guidelines (under which the US Government is supposed to be directing its immigration enforcement efforts at those who pose criminal or security threats) to pursue those currently in the country without authorization.
- However, there have been no blanket assurances regarding the safety of ineligible family members from deportation.
The Administration clearly wants to limit Deferred Action to only those young people who:
- Have, or will soon have, at least a high school degree or GED;
- Have not gotten into trouble with the law;
- Are not current or past members of gangs or similar organizations;
- Have become acclimated to life in the US; and
- Arrived in the US at a young age.
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments about Deferred Action. We look forwarding to providing additional updates in the coming weeks and months.