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Immigration Reform | Obama Mends Immigration Policy, Announces Deferred Action for Undocumented Youth

Associated Press

President Obama announced today one of the biggest moves of his presidency on immigration policy and in the process, will offer needed relief to an estimated 800,000 to 1.3 million or more young people anxious to attend college, be productive and contribute to the future of this country. No longer willing to wait for a dysfunctional and far-right Congress, he will effectively implement the DREAM Act’s goals on his own by implementing a change in immigration policy — which is arguably the boldest thing he’s done since the 2010 midterms. “This is not amnesty, immunity or a pathway to citizenship,” he said in his address to the American public today.

Every year, tens of thousands of young, undocumented immigrants graduate from American high schools, but quickly find themselves stuck. They can’t qualify for college aid, and they can’t work legally. America is the only home they’ve ever known — in most cases, they were, at a very young age, brought into the country illegally by their parents, (or entered legally and overstayed) — but at age 18, they have few, if any options. Many face deportation. “Many of these young people have already contributed to our country in significant ways,” Napolitano wrote in a memorandum describing the administration’s action. “Prosecutorial discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here.”  Secretary Napolitano’s memo comes two weeks after nearly 100 law professors sent a letter to President Obama outlining his authority to provide temporary relief from deportation.

The Obama administration will stop deporting and begin granting work permits to younger illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and have since led law-abiding lives.  While this guidance takes effect immediately, USCIS and ICE expect to begin implementation of the application processes within sixty days.

Certain young people who were brought to the United States through no fault of their own as young children and meet several key criteria will no longer be removed from the country or entered into removal proceedings. Those who demonstrate that they meet the criteria will be eligible to receive deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal and will be eligible to apply for work authorization, because, stated Obama, “It’s the right thing to do.”

According to the memo and a Q&A released by the administration, immigrants who are not currently in removal proceedings will have to submit applications demonstrating their eligibility for deferred action. Meanwhile, immigrants who are currently in removal proceedings will be eligible for deferred action, even if they previously declined an offer of “administrative closure” under the ongoing case review process. Although eligibility determinations will be made on a case-by-case basis, administration officials said that immigrants who satisfy the criteria in the memo should presumptively be granted deferred action.

Those that meet the following criteria will be eligible:

1) Be 15-30 years old, and have entered the USA before the age of 16

2) Have been present in the US for 5 years as of June 15, 2012

3) Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States

4) Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.  Background checks will be conducted by USCIS.  Do not apply without getting your criminal history reviewed, including your juvenile delinquency adjudications.  The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will conduct background checks, collect information from local law enforcement, and examine your criminal history, including arrest records and criminal warrants.  You risk having DHS and/or ICE detain and deport you, if you apply for deferred action without having your criminal history reviewed.  For more information on this

5)  The deferred action offer will be available to those in proceedings as well as to those who apply affirmatively

If you’d like to listen to President Obama’s speech, here it is.  Additional resources:  American Immigration Council Legal Action Center Practice Advisory

Other Deferred Action Resources:

    • Questions and Answers: Frequently Asked Questions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, June 19, 2012. This Q & A includes a listing of ICE and USCIS hotlines to call for more information, and also stresses that individuals should not submit applications until USCIS has a process in place and announces that the application period is open.
    • Questions and Answers: Deferred Action FAQ, United We Dream. This Q&A describes what is known about the government’s deferred action offer and gives advice on what potential beneficiaries should be doing while waiting for regulations governing the application process. United We Dream has also posted a Webinar answering questions about deferred action, which you can access from their Web site here.
    • Resources on Avoiding Fraud: The Wrong Help can Hurt: Beware of Immigration Scams, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. This page contains links to resources to help individuals avoid immigration fraud, including a document describing common immigration scams and a chart listing state entities where scams can be reported.

Immigration Compliance Group is available to assist all those that wish to discuss the application process through our office and can be contacted at info@immigrationcompliancegroup.com or by phone 562 612.3996

 

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