The Obama administration’s promise for deferred action — essentially a formalized version of prosecutorial discretion that you have to apply for to obtain — has finally taken shape, as the much of the official program has been made public.
Applicants who are approved under this new program will achieve temporary legal status in the U.S., being rewarded with the DACA label (which stands for “deferred action for childhood arrivals”). It is a major step for the U.S. immigration system, a moment which was not lost on many illegal or undocumented immigrants who have been discussing their situation with attorneys in the build-up to this announcement to ensure that they have all necessary documentation and application material.
In order the apply for DACA, an applicant must have arrived in the U.S. before their 16th birthday; lived continuously in the U.S. since June 15, 2007 until now; be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012; have enrolled or graduated from a U.S. high school or higher learning institution (or equivalent); enrolled or been honorably discharged from the Armed Forces or Coast Guard; and not have any significant criminal record (such as felonies, significant misdemeanors, or repeat misdemeanors).
There are other criteria to apply for the DACA program — such as a required background check — but one major question lingers: what happens if someone is denied DACA? It appears the individual could be in trouble. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which will handle DACA applications, will turn your information over to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which will take the necessary steps from there.
With the release of DACA and the potential risks (and benefits) that face applicants, there is no better time than now to discuss your legal status with an experienced immigration attorney.
Source: Multi-American, “DHS announces more details on deferred action process,” Leslie Berestein Rojas, August 3, 2012
- Our firm handles similar situations to the one discussed in this post. If you would like to learn more about our practice, please visit our Los Angeles immigration page.