We have had a lot of questions about the new immigration policy President Obama announced about stopping deportations of certain undocumented youth, often referred to as DREAMers.
To answer your questions, we are holding an information session on Monday, July 16th at Manchaca Public Library from 6 pm – 8 pm. Griselda Ponce, an immigration attorney, will discuss the policy and who is eligible to apply for it. Besides families involved with Con Mi MADRE, our Austin College Access Network partners Breakthrough, College Forward, and KIPP and their families are welcome to attend.
Until then, here are is some information regarding this policy:
What shift has occurred recently regarding immigration policy and undocumented students?
The policy shift means young immigrants can qualify for deferred action—a temporary legal status—and work authorization if they meet the following criteria:
- They are not older than 30 and were younger than 16 when they arrived in the United States.
- They lived in the United States at the time of the announcement, and had been here at least five years.
- They are enrolled in school, have graduated from high school or have earned a GED, or have served in the military.
- They have a relatively clean criminal history—meaning no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions.
Deferred action means no threat of deportation for two years. When that time is up, students will need to reapply. Students must present documentation—school records, medical records, financial records—to prove they are eligible. Qualifying for deferred action also means students age 15 and older can legally work in the U.S. if they apply for a work permit, pay the $380 fee, and are approved, according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) website. Details of what the June 15 announcement means for undocumented students and their college and work prospects should become clearer as the date to apply for deferred status approaches. The Department of Homeland Security website estimates another 60 days before UCSIS will start taking applications for deferred status.
The following questions and answers have been provided by Griselda Ponce, the immigration attorney who will be discussing the policy at the information session. For further questions, please attend the information session.
If I am granted deferred action, will I be eligible for employment authorization?
You will be eligible for employment authorization, but you will have to apply for it separately. State driver’s license requirements for immigrants, and the documents accepted as proof of status, vary by state. It may take advocacy to ensure that your state recognizes persons with deferred action status as eligible for a license. Since deferred action status is listed in the federal Real ID Act as a status that makes you eligible for a license that’s recognized for certain federal purposes, there are strong arguments for states to grant driver’s licenses to people with deferred action status.
If I am denied deferred action, will I be placed in deportation proceedings?
If you are denied deferred action under this process, USCIS will refer your case to ICE only if you have a criminal conviction or if there is a finding of fraud in your request. It is against USCIS policy to refer cases to ICE where there is no evidence of fraud or criminal conviction. Before you apply, however, it is really important that you first consult with a DREAM advocate or a reputable attorney – especially if you have ever been convicted of any kind of crime.
If you are in deportation proceedings, you can visit the ICE website at www.ice.gov or call the ICE hotline at 1-888-351-4024 (9 a.m. – 5 p.m., English and Spanish). Everyone else can visit USCIS’s website (www.uscis.gov) or call the USCIS hotline at 1-800-375-5283 (8 a.m. – 8 p.m., English and Spanish). Additional information is available from the website of the ICE Office of the Public Advocate, www.ice.gov/about/offices/enforcement-removal-operations/publicadvocate/.