Just last month, on June 15th, the Obama administration announced that it would offer protection from deportation to youth eligible for the DREAM Act. It is estimated that under this decision, about 800,000 young people, who came to the United States as children, will be allowed to stay in the country without the fear of deportation.
Although this policy does not grant automatic permanent legal status, it is a path for undocumented youth to come out of the shadows, allowing them to work legally, obtain a driver’s license, etc.
But in order to qualify for this initiative, there are five criteria that undocumented young people must meet. These are:
- They must have come to the US before they turned 16;
- They must not be above the age of 30 and (for youths not in deportation) must be 15 or older;
- They must have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007, and must have been present in the US on June 15, 2012;
- They must currently be in school, have received a high school diploma or GED, or been honorably discharged from the US Armed Forces or the Coast Guard.
Remember that this is a deferred action initiative, which means that it’s a form of protection that lasts two years. Anyone who gets deferred action would be able to get it renewed, but would need to reapply near the end of the two years to have the case reviewed again. Someone who gets deferred action can apply for a work permit or a driver’s license. However, deferred action does NOT put someone on track to get a green card or US citizenship.
If you or someone you know qualifies for deferred action, here is an outline of the process that will need to be followed depending on the situation:
- Young people who are in deportation proceedings will be able to ask ICE to review their cases for deferred action.
- Young people who are arrested by ICE or Customs and Border Protection will be able to ask the agency to not put them into deportation proceedings under this new action relief.
- Those who are not in deportation proceedings will be able to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for deferred action. USCIS should open this application process within 60 days (by mid-August).
Learning about the requirements for deferred action, both for you and for people you know, is only the first step. There is a lot to be done. But there are lots of organizations and places that offer information or workshops to help you understand the process. Look for Immigrant Rights organizations in your state and follow up. This may be the beginning of a new life for you or someone you know. Good luck!
Here is a graphic summary of the information above (From VotoLatino.org):