Some of you are no doubt aware the Obama administration made a major announcement last week regarding undocumented immigrants who would fall under the auspices of a program like the DREAM Act. That is, hundreds of thousands of immigrants in good legal standing who were brought to the U.S. as children will no longer be pursued for deportation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Effective June 15, DHS will not pursue these cases as part of a new Deferred Action Process (DAP).
"Our nation's immigration laws must be enforced in a sensible manner," said Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. "But they are not designed to be blindly enforced without consideration given to the individual circumstances in each case. Discretion, which is used in so many other areas, is especially justified here."
First, the particulars. To qualify for the DAP you must:
1. Have come to the United States before the age of 16.
2. Currently live in the U.S. and have resided here for five continuous years preceding June 16.
3. Have graduated from high school or received a GED, be currently enrolled in school, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Armed Forces or Coast Guard.
4. Have never been convicted of a felony, "significant misdemeanor" or multiple misdemeanors. You can also not pose a threat to national security or the public safety.
5. Be 30 years of age or younger.
If an immigrant is able to prove they meet these criteria through "verifiable documentation," they will be allowed to receive deferred action for two years and be able to apply for work authorization. This deferment will be subject to renewal after two years. At that point individuals who wish to renew their deferment will have to re-apply for an extension. If the extension is granted, they will need to re-apply for employment authorization.
DHS policy states that deferred action means the immigrant will no longer be considered actively breaking the law, but it does not grant them lawful status. Deferred action can be terminated or reviewed at any point at DHS's discretion. Those who qualify are not able to vote and will not be able to petition on behalf of family members.
"This is not a path to citizenship," Obama said during his announcement. "It is not a permanent fix."
Interested parties may contact DHS with questions, but the agency will not be accepting requests for 60 days.
Unfortunately this is an election year bill and doen't really address the bigger picture with respect to other issues. Also, it's doubtful this is Constitutional and therefore may be overturned in the near future.
The administration is trying to accomplish what Congress failed to do, essentially bypassing the legislative process by using deferred action.