Administration to Grant Deferred Action Status to DREAM Act Beneficiaries
In an unprecedented move, on June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that his Administration would grant deferred action status for qualifying children of the undocumented, permitting them to remain in the U.S. for two years, while being eligible for employment. The action has drawn praise from the Hispanic community and criticism from Republicans who favor Congressional action to address this issue over a short term Executive action. It may benefit upwards of 600,000 persons.
In announcing the Directive, Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano described deferred action status for this group of low risk beneficiaries as a logical extension of the Administration’s prosecutorial discretion policy to best use federal resources to remove those who pose the most serious national security or risk to public safety. She described this group of young people as having been brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own and who lacked intent to violate the law.
To qualify, an applicant must (1) Have come to the U.S. before age 16; (2) Have resided in the U.S. for at least five years prior to June 15, 2012; (3) Either currently be enrolled in school, or graduated from high school, have a G.E.D. certificate or be honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces; (4) Not be convicted of a felony, a significant misdemeanor, or multiple misdemeanors, or otherwise be a threat to national security or public safety; and (4) Be 30 years of age or younger.
Persons meeting the above criteria and who are already in removal proceedings will be subject to a case-by-case review.
“Whether taken out of a concern for the plight of innocent children, or done as an election year ploy to gain votes, President Obama’s decision to grant Deferred Action status to children in the U.S. without status is the first positive step that actually helps young people living in limbo, and it has been hailed as such by the Hispanic community,” said Stewart Rabinowitz, a Dallas, Texas immigration attorney. “In light of the growing clout of U.S. citizen voting Hispanics in America, the President’s step, while controversial, is recognition of this reality.”
The Administration expects to implement this Deferred Action program within the next 60 days.
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