Update: Deferred Action for DREAMers!

Jun 18, 2012

By Helly Lee

Update: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin taking requests for deferred action starting August 15, 2012. For more information, please visit the National Immigration Law Center's Deferred Action for DREAMers site and the USCIS site on Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Process.

Last Friday, Secretary Napolitano and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced a new deferred action process for DREAM Act-eligible youth (also known as DREAMers). Simply put, this new directive will allow youth who were brought to the U.S. at a young age to submit a request for a review of their case and be considered for deferred action - when DHS temporarily agrees not to place an individual in removal proceedings or deport them. Deferred action does not provide an individual a path to be granted lawful permanent residency (or LPR status) or provide a path to citizenship. To be eligible, an individual must:

  • Have come to the U.S. under the age of 16;
  • Have continuously lived in the U.S. for at least five years prior to this new directive;
  • Currently be in school or have graduated from high school, obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran;
  • Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdeameanor, multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise pose a threat to security and public safety; and
  • Not be older than 30 years old.

According to the Pew Hispanic Center, this action would impact 1.4 million individuals, including 700,000 unauthorized immigrants who are ages 18 to 30, but arrived in the U.S as children and are currently enrolled in school or have graduated from high school; and an additional 700,000 who are under the age of 18 and are enrolled in school. This includes 150,000 who are currently enrolled in high school.

As an organization whose focus includes working to improve opportunities for America's youth and ensure education and career access for all, this is a momentous announcement. Young people who have excelled in education or have served our country in the armed forces may now be eligible to receive employment authorization to work and not worry about how deportation may interrupt their lives for the duration that they are receiving deferred action.

In the past years, there have been multiple unsuccessful attempts to pass the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act, which provides DREAMers a path to legalization. This deferred action process, announced today, is not quite as extensive as the solutions offered by the DREAM Act but provides a temporary measure for many young people who have long been shut out of fully participating in our communities. This is not a substitute for congressional action, which is needed to create long-term solutions to fixing our immigration system. Congress must still do its part to address the needed changes in immigration policies.

Congratulations to our colleagues who have worked hard to make this change!

For more information, read the DHS announcement here >>

site by Trilogy Interactive