In an unprecedented move, on June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that his Administration would grant Deferred Action status to qualifying children of the undocumented to permit them to remain in the U.S. for 2 years, employment eligible. 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. The action may benefit upwards of 600,000 persons presently in the U.S.
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 risk or risk to public safety. She characterized this eligible population as having been brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own and who lacked intent to violate the law.
To qualify for Deferred Action status, an applicant must (1) Have come to the U.S. before age 16; (2) Have resided in the U.S. for at least 5 years prior to June 15, 2012; (3) Either current 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 or younger.
Persons meeting the above criteria and who are already in removal proceedings will be subject to a case-by-case review.
The Administration expects to implement this Deferred Action program within the next 60 days.