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DHS Announces Deferred Action for "DREAMers"

June 20, 2012

On June 15, 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced it will exercise prosecutorial discretion on an individualized basis and grant deferred action to certain individuals who came to the United States as children. Deferred action is a discretionary determination to defer removal or deportation. Deferred action does not grant any substantive right, immigration status, or pathway to citizenship.

To be considered for deferred action, an individual must:

  • Have entered the U.S. under the age of sixteen and currently not be above the age of thirty;
  • Have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least five years preceding June 15, 2012 and be present in the US on June 15, 2012;
  • Be currently enrolled in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a GED certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the U.S. Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and
  • Not be convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Deferred action will be granted for two years and may be renewed, however there is no guarantee of renewal. Individuals who are granted deferred action may also apply for employment authorization during the period of deferred action. Both deferred action and employment authorization may be withdrawn or changed by a future administration. Individuals will not accrue unlawful presence during the two year deferred action period, but deferred action does not forgive any previous or subsequent periods of unlawful presence.  While employment authorization allows an individual to obtain a social security number, it is currently unclear what impact this will have on an individual's ability to obtain a driver's license or enroll in college.

DHS has directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to develop and implement filing procedures within the next 60 days.  Individuals not currently in removal proceedings will be required to apply for prosecutorial discretion and must consider the risks involved in applying for benefits.
  
Please contact us with any questions regarding this change in policy.

Varnum will host a bilingual informational session, DREAMers: Is Deferred Action For You? Acción Diferida, Es Para Usted? on Wednesday, June 27 at 7 p.m. at Varnum's Grand Rapids office. Visit Varnum's website to view the invitation in English or in Spanish.

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