Thanks to the courageous efforts of undocumented immigrant youth, also known as DREAMERS, on June 15, 2012, President Obama announced a policy called “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals,” frequently called DACA. DACA is designed to provide temporary protection from the threat of deportation for certain undocumented young people living in the United States.

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is an important and positive step, but it does not realize the full vision of the DREAM Act. Although DACA may provide many DREAMERS with work authorization, it does not provide legal status or a path to citizenship. The DREAM Act is still needed.

On August 15, 2012, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services began accepting requests for deferred action for childhood arrivals. You should speak with a licensed attorney or accredited representative before applying for deferred action. The attorney or representative will explain the benefits and risks of applying for deferred action and help you make the best decision for your case.

Q: What is Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)?

A: According to USCIS, deferred action “is a discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion.” Deferred action does not give young people lawful status in the United States, but it does give young people the opportunity to receive employment authorization for as long as the deferred action program exists. The Department of Homeland Security can halt or renew the deferred action program at any time. For now, it has been authorized for two years.

Q: Can I apply for deferred action?

A: According to USCIS, you may apply if you:

• Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012;

• Came to the United States before reaching your 16th birthday;

• Have continuously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time;

• Were physically present in the United States on June 15, 2012, and at the time of making your request for consideration of deferred action with USCIS;

• Entered without inspection before June 15, 2012, or your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012;

• Are currently in school, have graduated or obtained a certificate of completion from high school, have obtained a general education development (GED) certificate, or are an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States and;

• Have not been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and do not otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Details from USCIS about what these guidelines mean are available here. If you meet the guidelines above, you may request deferred action for two years. You may also be eligible to work in the United States. Deferred Action will not provide you with a path to citizenship or legal status in the United States.

We strongly recommend that you speak with a licensed attorney or accredited representative who can help you to decide if you are eligible and if you should apply based on your situation.

Q: Who can help me decide if deferred action is right for me?

A. Attorneys and accredited representatives may help you decide if deferred action is right for you. The following attorneys and organizations are available to assist you:

• National Immigrant Justice Center’s Online Assessment Tool to Determine if You are Eligible for Deferred  Action: DreamerJustice.org

Attorneys in Illinois

Agencies in Illinois

National Contacts

 

Q. How can I request deferred action? What is the process?

A. USCIS explains the filing process in a video with detailed steps here.

Q. Where can I get more information on deferred action? 

A. For more information on deferred action, you can go to:

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Consideration of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals

Dream Relief, Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights

Dream Activist Undocumented Students Action & Resource Network

National Council of La Raza

National Immigrant Justice Center

National Immigration Law Center

United We Dream