31 Jan Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
In June of 2012, the Department of Homeland Security announced that certain people who came to the United States as children and who meet several guidelines may request consideration of deferred action for a period of two years, subject to renewal.
Since 2012, our office has filed many DACA applications and received many approvals. Many people here in the United States were brought to the country when they were children. Some of my clients have been here since they were one or two years old. They often don’t know any other culture because they have been raised in the U.S. However, because their parents brought them here illegally or any lawful status has since expired, pursuant to the immigration laws, they are not here lawfully and therefore cannot obtain social security numbers or work authorization. This presents a major problem for those wanting to work or go to school.
The DACA program was a step in the right direction to help those that had no choice in coming to the United States unlawfully. It is important to understand, however, that those people granted deferred action do not obtain lawful status nor do they have a path to citizenship. Rather the Department of Homeland Security is saying that any adverse action against these individuals will be deferred and they will be eligible for work authorization. Those that received deferred action receive a social security card that is valid only for work purposes and with this number they are able to obtain a driver’s license.
On February 19, 2014, the Department finally issued the long awaited guidance on how to renew the deferred action for those who are approaching the two years. Surprisingly, the Department is essentially requesting a reapplication. Therefore, those wishing to renew must submit forms I-821D, I-765, and I-765WS along with the filing fee of $465. They must also meet the same criteria that was set forth previously. An individual whose case was initially deferred under DACA by ICE or are DACA recipients with an employment authorization that will expire in the next 120 days, may be considered for renewal of DACA from USCIS if he or she:
- Was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
- Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;
- Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;
- Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;
- Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;
- Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States; and
- Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.
I believe that this is a positive law that allows individuals to get jobs or attend college and contribute to society. I hope that the Department will look for other ways to help those individuals who were brought here by their parents when they were minor children. For now, I recommend that those who qualify apply for deferred action and take advantage of this program so that they can be lawfully employed.
Photo courtesy of Flickr by jnn1776