Deferred Action Immigration Program Raises Questions among Undocumented Youth

518967_immmigration_rally.jpgPresident Obama’s new deferred action immigration policy proposes to grant temporary deferment of removal to certain undocumented immigrants, allow them to remain in the United States, and grant them work authorization. This prosecutorial discretion program would be available to certain people who arrived in the United States before age 16, have a clean criminal record, are under 30 years of age, and have lived in the United States for at least five continuous years prior to June 15, 2012.

Since the announcement was made last Friday, people are beginning to ask questions. Immigration advocates talked with Homeland Security officials about the process in a conference call on Monday and asked questions for which DHS does not yet have the answers. Questions remain such as whether June 15 will be a firm cutoff date and whether beneficiaries will be permitted to travel outside the United States.

USCIS Director Alejandro Mayorkas warned that the application period has not yet opened, they will not accept requests now, and applications will be rejected. The agency has been given 60 days to come up with a procedure for accepting and adjudicating applications.

The conference call did answer some important questions. It will not be necessary to be in removal proceedings to qualify. Dependents of those who qualify will not be covered and will have to make a separate application to be considered. The program will not award legal permanent resident status. Even criminal convictions for certain misdemeanors will render a person ineligible, including driving under the influence and drug possession.

USCIS is now providing a telephone hotline with details about the deferred action program in English and Spanish at (800) 375-5283. The USCIS has posted an extensive list of FAQs explaining the new deferred action program here at this link.