New Immigration Enforcement: Stop Deportation of Law Abiding Immigrant Youth
President Obama announced today a new change to immigration enforcement preventing the deportation of young immigrants who came to the U.S. as children and can show they have obeyed U.S. law. The executive order bypasses Congress’ partially achieved DREAM Act by finally allowing immigrant youth the opportunity to stay in the U.S. through deferred action. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano also confirmed stating that young immigrants that are not a potential risk to national security or public safety will be eligible for deferred action if they meet certain criteria.
To be eligible for the deferred action, the immigrant must show he or she:
- Came to the U.S. under the age of sixteen;
- Has continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and is currently present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012;
- Is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a general education development certificate or honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- Has 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; and
- Is not above the age of thirty.
Deferred action will be executed through prosecutorial discretion and may be considered even if the immigrant is already in removal proceedings or subject to a final order of removal. However, to receive consideration for deferred action, the individual facing removal must request that his or her case be reviewed by USCIS when the application period opens. Additionally, those individuals who have never been apprehended or placed in removal who are seeking deferred action must also submit a request to USCIS when the application period opens to be considered for deferred action.
According to Secretary Napolitano all immigrants who submit applications must pass a background check and all decisions on whether deferred action shall be granted are based on a case by case basis. Those individuals who meet the criteria and receive deferred action will be eligible for employment authorization for a period of two years. The deferred action two year period is renewable once it has expired, pending review of the individual case.
It is important to note that deferred action is not permanent citizenship or permanent residency. However, deferred action allows youth immigrants the opportunity to finish their studies, military service or start their careers in the U.S. without the fear of removal during the designated period of deferred action. Additionally, the executive order allows those youth who were seeking the benefits of the DREAM Act an opportunity to finally receive protection from the removal process.
At Peek and Toland, we are very excited about the opportunities the new executive order has offered young immigrants. Through our years of immigration experience we have had to deliver the bad news to numerous good, hardworking immigrants that they could not remain in the U.S. However, this new order now makes it possible for a different, happier outcome. At Peek and Toland, we hope to help young immigrants who meet the criteria for deferred action contribute to the American education system and the American workforce for now and into the future.
If you think you may be eligible for deferred action or if you want to ask more questions about your eligibility, contact our office at Peek and Toland at (512) 399-2311.