The DREAM Act is an acronym for Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors. It is a legislative proposal, first introduced in 2001, which would stand to provide status to certain qualifying illegals. Many drafts of this legislation have been before Congress and the Senate, but have not been passed.
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals
On June 15, 2012, Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security announced that effective immediately; certain illegal immigrants who qualify would be eligible for relief from deportation. Through the exercise of prosecutorial discretion, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will terminate removal proceedings against individuals who lack the intent to violate the law.
In addition, these individuals will be eligible for a work permit in order to gain legal employment in the United States. Work permits are not guaranteed, but will be issued on case-by-case basis depending on economic necessity. It is important to consult an attorney experienced in these applications, in order to present your best application possible to obtain your employment authorization.
In order to be eligible for deferred action, individuals must:
- Have come to the United States under the age of sixteen;
- Have continuously resided in the United States for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and are present in the United States on June 15, 2012;
- Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
- Not be above the age of thirty.
While this is an important step in the right direction as far as relief for DREAMers goes, it is not the full relief sought by the proposed DREAM Act. In addition, this is not amnesty. As of now, this is simply a deferred action, meaning that a person, if he or she qualifies, will not be subject to deportation. This relief will be made available to those who wish to apply affirmatively (those not currently in deportation proceedings).
Through the new directive, a qualified individual would be eligible for an employment authorization document, meaning the individual could work legally. Qualifications for an employment authorization document will be made on a case-by-case basis, depending on economic necessity. Applicants are not guaranteed employment authorization. The deferred action pursuant to this new directive does not grant permanent resident status, nor does it place an individual on a path towards permanent residency and eventually citizenship.
In addition to understanding what the new policy is, it is important to understand what it is not.
· Deferred Action is NOT a law passed by Congress;
· Deferred Action is NOT an Executive Order passed by President Obama;
· Deferred Action does NOT grant Amnesty;
· Deferred Action is NOT the DREAM Act;
· Deferred Action does NOT lead to a green card or naturalization;
· Deferred Action does NOT grant any type of legal status; and
· Deferred Action is not a permanent policy or memorandum.
Since Deferred Action is not a law, it is possible that it may not be around in the future or even near future. For the reasons stated above, it is not a permanent source of immigration relief. It is merely a memorandum that is effective immediately.
We strongly encourage you to seek the assistance of an attorney to file for an affirmative application (and for assistance if you are already in deportation proceedings). If you believe you are eligible, it is strongly recommended that you seek the assistance of Gupta & Trujillo to complete your application.
Gupta & Trujillo will help you present all the supporting documents that are needed in order to make a strong case for qualification. It is important to seek the assistance of an attorney, as there is no appeals process for the deferred action application. If you do not do it properly the first time around, you will not have a second bite at the apple.
NOTE: Gupta & Trujillo is part of the AILA DREAM Defenders, which provides pro bono representation to those who may qualify. If you believe you qualify for pro bono assistance, you may contact the National Immigration Project (www.nationalimmigrationproject.org) or AILA (www.aila.org).