The Obama administration recently announced that it will offer relief from deportation for young immigrants who were brought to USA as minors, and meet specified precise requirements. Thus the announcement temporarily eliminates the possibility of deportation for youths who would qualify for relief under the DREAM Act, hopefully giving Congress an opportunity to craft a bipartisan solution that can set a path towards permanent residence for qualifying young people.
It should be noted that the President merely directed DHS (Department of Homeland Security) to exercise prosecutorial discretion to grant deferred action to qualified immigrant youth, and did not create a new law. Deferred action is a form of prosecutorial discretion that allows an individual to remain temporarily in the United States. Such individual can then also seek work authorization. Deferred action does not confer permanent residence (green card). Moreover, it is not an amnesty. Under this program, deferred action may be granted for two year increments and may be renewable.
Eligible applicants must:
- Be less than 30 years old, and have entered before the age of 16
- Have been present in the U.S. for at least 5 years as of June 15, 2012
- Have maintained continuous residence
- 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
- Be currently in school, graduated from high school or have a GED, or must be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States.
As part of this exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the above criteria are to be considered whether or not an individual is already in removal proceedings or subject to a final order of removal. No individual is to receive deferred action unless they first pass a background check. Also, requests for relief are to be decided on a case by case basis. DHS did not provide any assurance that relief will be granted in all cases. Moreover, ICE Director John Morton urged qualifying individuals to NOT turn themselves into ICE or CBP. Rather he advised them to wait for announcement of the formal application process. He also warned that everyone should beware of scam artists and fraudsters who may try to take advantage of this announcement to scam desperate people seeking to legitimize their immigration status.