On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced that DHS would exercise prosecutorial discretion for certain individuals who entered the US as children and meet other requirements. Those who qualify would not be removed from the US, would be granted "deferred action" for 2 years, subject to renewal, and be granted employment authorization.
June 15 was a day of celebration. Since then there has been concern and confusion for the estimated 1.4 million potential beneficiaries of this largesse as to what the program will look like, what will be required, who should apply and who should not.
At this writing and it is a day by day thing, we know that the June 15 DHS memorandum authorizing the program states the following eligibility requirements:
- under age 16 at time of entry into the US;
- continued residence in the US for at least 5 years before June 15, 2012;
- in school, graduated from high school or obtained GED certificate or honorable discharge from the military;
- not convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, or multiple misdemeanor offenses , and not otherwise a threat to security or safety;
- and 30 years of age or below.
We don't know how these words will be interpreted, how the information given by the DREAMERs will be shared, how much it will cost to apply and many other things. What is clear is that potential beneficiaries should start collecting as much evidence as they can to prove their birth, date of entry into the US, their travels outside the US, their school records and criminal records--juvenile or adult, if any. What is also clear is that individuals who have any criminal record need to be very cautious.
The deferred action that is offered is not for everyone who potentially qualifies. There will be much more information on this subject in the next few days and weeks. In the meantime, DREAMERs should gather their documents and as much information as they can.
For those who want to learn about this program from a historical and legal perspective, see the July 13, 2012 report of the Congressional Research Service entitled "Analysis of June 15, 2012 DHS Memorandum, Exercising Prosecutorial Discretion With Respect To Individuals Who Came To The United States As Children."