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What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals?

On June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a new Department ofHomeland Security (DHS) policy that allows some undocumented young people to apply for a way to:

  • avoid being removed or deported fromtheUnited States;
  • avoid being removed if already in removal proceedings/immigration court; and
  • avoid being placed into removal proceedings.

This policy is called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Those who apply and are found eligible will receive something called deferred action for a period of two years – with the possibility of renewal – and will be eligible to apply for work authorization.

What is deferred action?

Under deferred action,theDepartment of Homeland Security will not place certain, eligible individuals into removal proceedings. It is sort of like the government saying: “we know you are in the country without permission or immigration status, and we could deport you, but we will defer any action on deporting you.” It does notmean that a person with an approved deferred action request has legal immigration status, a visa or a green card. And it is not a path to citizenship.

However, an individual with deferred action is eligible for work authorization. The work authorization is a government‐issued identification card which can help with things like getting a social security number and opening a bank account. In some states (including California) this may make an approved individual eligible for a driver’s license or state identification card.

Deferred action will be granted on a case‐by‐case basis. If granted, it will be for a period of two years, with the possibility of renewal.

It is available to people who are in removal proceedings as well as to those who have never had any contact with immigration authorities.

Who qualifies?

A personmay qualify for deferred action if he or she:

  • was under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;
  • came to the United States under the age of 16;
  • has continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present

    time (only “brief, casual, and innocent” absences from the United States);

  • was physically present in theUnited States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making

    his or her request for deferred action;

  • entered the United States with out inspection before June 15, 2012, or his or her lawful

    immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

  • is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a certificate of

    completion from high school, has obtained a General Education Development(GED)

    certificate, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or U.S. Armed

    Forces; and

  • has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, three or

    more non‐significant misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national

    security or public safety.

Applicants who submit a deferred action request to USCIS must be 15 years old or older if they have never been in removal proceedings, are not subject to a final order of removal, and are not subject to a voluntary departure order. Applicants may be underthe age of 15 if they are in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order and are not in immigration detention.

 What are the risks of applying?

Deferred action is not federal law. It can be terminated at any time, including by a new Presidential Administration.

Currently, USCIS has stated that the information provided in the request for deferred action for childhood arrivals will generally be protected from disclosure to ICE or Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) for the purposes of immigration enforcement proceedings. However, that policy could change at any time without notice.

Certain cases that are denied and involve a criminal offense, fraud, threat to national security or public safety, or exceptional circumstances may possibly be placed immediately in removal proceedings.

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