Obama Announces New Protection for Undocumented Youth
June 15th, the Obama administration announced effective immediately it will suspend the deportation of DREAM students. These youths, whether or not they are currently in deportation proceedings, will be able to apply for “deferred action,” which would temporarily shield them from deportation and enable them to live and work legally in the US.
From our statement:
"Today’s victory has many fathers – the President, who stood by the principles of family unity and fair play, and the hundreds of thousands of DREAM youth and their allies who have courageously come out of the shadows to fight for justice,” said Lawrence Benito, ICIRR’s Chief Executive Officer. “We should all take pride today in our President for taking a stand in favor of the American dream.”Watch WGN
Coverage from ICIRR Press Conference:
The announcement sets forth five criteria that youths must meet to get deferred action:
- They must have come to the US before they turned 16;
- They must not yet be above the age of 30 and (for youths not in deportation proceedings) 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;
- They must not have been convicted of a felony, a “significant misdemeanor,”# multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety. Anyone applying for deferred action would need to go through a criminal background check.
What deferred action involves
Deferred action is a form of protection that lasts two years. Anyone who gets deferred action would be able to get it renewed, but she would need to reapply near the end of the two years and have her case reviewed again. Someone who gets deferred action can apply for a work permit. DHS is also considering whether to allow travel outside the US. Deferred action does NOT put someone on track to get a green card or US citizenship.
How the process will work
Youths who are in deportation proceedings will be able to ask ICE to review their cases and grant them deferred action. The policy applies to youths whose cases ICE already considered for prosecutorial discretion but did not approve.
Youths who are arrested by ICE or Customs and Border Protection (including those being detained) will be able to ask the agency to not put them into deportation proceedings.
Youths who are not in deportation proceedings will be able to apply to US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for deferred action. This process will also be available to those who already have final removal orders. USCIS should open this application process within 60 days (by mid-August).
Don’t get hurt by notario fraud
Anyone who wants to apply should seek help only from immigration attorneys or non-profit organizations that work on immigration matters.
What happens if an application is denied?
DHS is not allowing anyone whose application is denied to file an appeal. Under its current guidance, however, USCIS will refer a denied applicant for deportation only if the case involves a criminal conviction or fraud.
The work that remains
While this policy announcement is promising, we need to make sure it gets implemented fully and fairly. This deferred action process is still “discretionary”—that is, no one will be granted deferred action automatically. In addition, the “prosecutorial discretion” case review process that ICE began last year has resulted in only 2% of cases being closed. We need to make sure that the problems that occurred with prosecutorial discretion do not happen again in this case.
We also still need to push for the DREAM Act and comprehensive immigration reform. Again, deferred action is only temporary, and does not put anyone on track for a green card or citizenship. In addition, the policy can change if there is a change in White House or DHS leadership. We need to change our laws so that DREAM youths can become fully contributing members of our community.
The Administration’s step today will allow these young people, who are American in every way except paperwork the opportunity to safely study and work in our country. Ultimately, a permanent solution will require Congress to pass the DREAM Act itself, creating a pathway to citizenship and the opportunity for these kids to fully and permanently pursue their American dreams.
This is a beginning. We look forward to working with the administration to ensure that today’s announcement is implemented swiftly and fully.