One Small Step for Immigration, One Giant Leap for DREAMers
In a stunning turn of events, the Obama administration has announced its intention to grant deferred action to many individuals brought to the United States as children, known by many as DREAMers because of their potential eligibility in the event the federal DREAM Act were ever to be passed. Deferred action is a a choice on the part of the government to delay the removal of an individual. It is a form of prosecutorial discretion, and does not confer lawful immigration status, at least not in the same sense as lawful permanent residence, citizenship, temporary protected status, etc. Individuals receiving deferred action are eligible to receive employment authorization valid for the period of deferred action, which in this case is two years. In a memo released today, and accessible here, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) established the following criteria for any individuals who consider applying:
- The individual must have come to the U.S. prior to turning 16 years old;
- The individual must have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five (5) years before today, June 15, 2012;
- The individual must be in the U.S. today, the date of the announcement;
- The individual is currently in school, has graduated from high school, has obtained a GED, or is an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
- The individual has not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise poses a threat to national security or public safety; and
- The individual is not over the age of thirty.