On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security ("DHS") implemented a policy that could potentially change the lives of thousands of undocumented young people, or "DREAMers," forever. It began accepting requests for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals ("DACA"). Deferred action is a form of administrative relief meant to give a person with unlawful immigration status temporary protection from deportation if they can prove that they fulfill certain criteria. Receiving deferred action status would allow these individuals to obtain a work permit and driver’s license while they go through the process of becoming legal residents or otherwise resolve his or her status. This would allow them to help their families or save money for college. Deferred action would be valid for two years and may be renewed at the end of the two years.
This relief is offered to certain individuals who were brought to this country as children, and fulfill the following additional requirements:
- You must have been under the age of thirty-one (31) as of June 15, 2012;
- Have arrived in the United States before your sixteenth (16th) birthday;
- Have been continuously residing in the United States since June 15, 2007 (the date of the memorandum issued by the DHS), up to the present time;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Be at least fifteen (15) years old, unless you are currently in deportation proceedings, have a voluntary departure order, or have a deportation order and are not in immigration detention.
- Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development ("GED") certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or U.S. armed forces;
- 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; and
- Pass a background check.
For additional information, please visit: http://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/consideration-deferred-action-childhood-arrivals-process
Even if you meet the requirements, DHS will still decide on a case-by-case basis whether to approve your application. This is why it is important to have the guidance of a qualified immigration attorney to help prepare you for the process. DACA is a way for people who consider the United States to be their only home to have a chance to remain here and feel safe once and for all. By removing the threat of deportation, young "DREAMers" can focus on work and education to better themselves and their communities, which would benefit us all.