An Update on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals – As previously reported, the department of homeland security announced on June 15, 2012, that they will not prosecute certain individuals who were brought to this country as children and are now without any status in the United States. These children are often referred to as “dreamers” because they dream of a future where they can obtain driver’s licenses, attend college and work legally without a daily fear of being caught by the immigration authorities and deported back to their home country. In most cases, these are innocent children who were brought to the United States when they were young and had no choice in deciding whether to stay unlawfully or return to their home countries; in most cases, they had no idea that they were unlawful until they became older and were restricted to do things other lawful children were allowed to.
As such, effective august 15, 2012, these “dreamers” will not be placed into removal (i.e. deportation) proceedings, if they meet and prove certain requirements. If approved, they will be able to obtain a relief called deferred action in two-year increments (which prevents them from being deported), and obtain work authorization (allowing them to work legally and obtain a valid social security number, a valid driver’s license, and/or identification) that enable them to live in the United States with citizenship and immigration services (“CIS”) authority.
Unfortunately, based on recently published statistics, many eligible individuals are not taking advantage of this relief. Whether they are uncertain as to what the law requires or provide, whether they were worried about what would happen in the recent elections, or whether they are afraid of what will happen in 2 years, many eligible individuals are simply not applying. In fact, as of december 13, 2012, CIS has only received about 356,000 cases. yet, in accordance with the american immigration council, it is estimated that approximately 1.4 Million individuals are eligible, from which approximately 110,000 individuals (including more than 30,000 in Florida alone) are of South American descent. Further, the statistics published by CIS confirms only about 4,800 applications received were from Brazilians.
Thus, this article shall clarify the requirements for eligibility and explain why hiring an immigration lawyer is necessary. First, to be eligible for deferred action, applicants must:
be age 30 or below on June 15, 2012;
have come to the u.S. before the age of 16;
have continuously resided in the u.S. since June 15, 2007 up to the present time;
have been physically present in the u.S. on June 15, 2012;
be in unlawful status as of June 15, 2012 or have entered the u.S. without inspection;
be currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or armed forces of the U.S.; and
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.
Second, although the requirements mentioned above may appear to be straightforward or simple, it is clear that looks can be deceiving and with no right to appeal the decision made by CIS, it is in the applicant’s best interest to retain an experienced immigration lawyer. There are many factors of concern but below is a list of a few concerns that only an immigration lawyer can evaluate:
if the individual has been in any con- tact with law enforcement. It is important to understand that matters that may be minor in Criminal law may be major in Immigration law, even if the matter was dismissed
if the individual has had any previous filings or cases with CIS, it is important to determine whether the information previously provided may now hurt his/ her chances
if the individual has ever left the u.S., it is important to determine whether this exit resulted in terminating his/her “continuous residency”
if the individual ever used falsified documents, whether a fraudulent passport upon u.S. entry, a made up social security card, a falsified greencard, falsified information/documents on an I-9 form when applying for a job, false claim to u.S. citizenship, or even if the individual used a family member’s identification to obtain a driver’s license.
all of these questions are vital in determining whether the individual should apply for deferred action.
With the elections behind us and both the President and both sides of congress willing to discuss immigration re- form, deferred action is likely to stay and be extended for many years to come. As such, meet with an experienced immigration lawyer to see if you or a loved one is eligible for the relief.