What You Need to Know About Deferred Action
This week the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin taking applications for its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative, designed for undocumented young people seeking relief from deportation, and work permits for legal employment.
President Obama first announced the shift in immigration policy on June 15, calling it “the right thing to do.” As many as 1.4 million undocumented young people stand to benefit immediately from the new policy.
There are tons of questions communities across the nation have about deferred action, how undocumented immigrants qualify, and the application process. Youth-led organizations, like United We DREAM have done tremendous work to ensure everyone gets accurate information, but here are some of the basics you need to know about what deferred action is (and isn’t):
- In case you didn’t know, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) initiative is a two-year reprieve from potential deportation for undocumented young people who meet certain eligibility requirements. Those that qualify will eventually be able to apply for a work permit, too (through a separate application, referred to as I-765). Nobody is being granted U.S. citizenship or legal permanent residency through DACA.The paperwork for DACA program can be downloaded from the Immigration Services website.
- There are some pretty rigid requirements for eligibility. Applicants must: a) have entered the United States before the age of 16; b) have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 to now; c) have been present in the U.S. and under the age of 31 on June 15, 2012 and present at the time of filing the application.
- Education and previous criminal record is being considered, too. Individuals will: a) be currently in school, b) have completed high school or earned their G.E.D., c) be able to prove they have been honorably discharged from the US armed forces.No felonies or significant misdemeanors, or three or more misdemeanors can be on someone’s record. According to the Department of Homeland Security, a significant misdemeanor is a federal, state, or local crime punishable by no more than one year of imprisonment. Click here to find out if you are eligible.
- There is a cost. Applicants must pay a $465, and a decision on each application could take several months. While the application is pending, individuals should not leave the country. If the applicant is allowed to stay in the United States but desires to want to travel internationally, they must apply for permission to reenter the country--a request that would cost $360 more. Some advocacy organizations have started national fundraising efforts to help youth cover the costs.
When, and if, DREAMers choose to apply is a personal choice.
While this is a step in the right direction, community members have expressed hesitations about the new policy directive and rightfully so. Individuals who think they might be eligible for the deferred action should get as much information as possible about their specific case.Although deferred action is not a solution to the broken immigration system, it’s one step closer for undocumented youth who wish to pursue their education anduse their degrees toward employment, and a boon for all Americans who are looking for some solutions to boost our economy, while keeping mixed-status families and communities intact.
Check out @campusprogress on Twitter for updates on informational webinars, and any alerts that come up about the deferred action.
Eduardo Garcia is advocacy manager at Campus Progress. Follow him @itseddie.
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