In the summer of 2012, President Barack Obama announced a controversial change to U.S. immigration policy designed to indefinitely postpone the deportation of certain undocumented young immigrants who were brought to the U.S. as children. The initiative, known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also provides an opportunity for young undocumented immigrants to obtain employment authorization, allowing them to work legally in the United States.
Program Targets Those Brought to US as Children
The U.S. Customs and Immigration Service began accepting applications for the Deferred Action program on August 15, 2012. To be eligible to participate in the program, applicants must have entered the U.S. prior to turning 16 and must have been age 30 or younger on June 15, 2012. Applicants must also meet other eligibility requirements, including:
- Applicants must have lived continuously in the United States for period of at least five years
- Applicants must currently be enrolled in school, or have received a high school diploma or Graduation Equivalency Degree (GED), or have served in the U.S. military
- Applicants must not have been convicted of a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, and must not have been convicted of more than two other misdemeanors
People who are approved to participate in the Deferred Action program can be protected from deportation for a period of two years, and are eligible to renew their participation in the program indefinitely. Immigrants participating in the program can also receive authorization to work during the deportation protection period, and may renew their work permits indefinitely.
According to some estimates, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals initiative could help more than 1 million young people avoid deportation and obtain lawful employment. People who wish to participate in the program must provide documentation of their eligibility, as well as proof of identity such as a passport or other photo ID.
No Access to Green Cards or Citizenship
The Deferred Action program does not provide undocumented immigrants with a path to citizenship or lawful permanent resident status – often referred to as a green card. However, by delaying deportation, the program may provide some undocumented immigrants with more time to learn about their long-term immigration options, which may include seeking legal status through an employer or family member. To learn more about the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or for assistance with other immigration issues, contact an experienced immigration lawyer.