Dream Deferred But Alive

Call it a dream deferred.
Tens of thou­sands of young peo­ple who have grown up in the United States but lack legal immi­grant sta­tus recently learned they can stay and pos­si­bly legally work here for up to two years under a pol­icy change announced by Pres­i­dent Barack Obama.
For young immi­grants already in removal pro­ceed­ings, the announce­ment was manna from heaven. But the pol­icy is but a ves­tige of the Devel­op­ment, Relief, and Edu­ca­tion for Alien Minors (DREAM) act, a bipar­ti­san pro­posal first intro­duced over a decade ago that would have allowed a path­way to cit­i­zen­ship for cer­tain qual­i­fied young immi­grants.
The ques­tions now for an esti­mated 600,000 eli­gi­ble young, undoc­u­mented immi­grants are who qual­i­fies and what, if any, risks are there in apply­ing for a ben­e­fit that could be wiped out after the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion?
The United States Cit­i­zen­ship and Immi­gra­tion Ser­vice has spelled out the pre-requisites for the ben­e­fits in an advi­sory on the USCIS web page. Among them are that you:
1. Were under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012
2. Came to the United States before reach­ing your 16th birth­day
3. Have con­tin­u­ously resided in the United States since June 15, 2007, up to the present time
4. 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;
5. Entered with­out inspec­tion before June 15, 2012, or your law­ful immi­gra­tion sta­tus expired as of June 15, 2012;
6. 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
7. 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.
In addi­tion, the USCIS has issued an infor­ma­tional flier. The Mass­a­chu­setts Immi­grant and Refugee Advo­cacy Coali­tion is hold­ing a series of infor­ma­tional forums on the Deferred Action for Child­hood Arrivals pro­gram, includ­ing two slated for Sept. 13 and 21 in Green­field and Northamp­ton, respec­tively. The agency also is plan­ning to pro­vide assis­tance for a lim­ited num­ber of appli­cants, with advanced reser­va­tions required.
In the mean­time, other immi­gra­tion law orga­ni­za­tions, includ­ing the National Immi­gra­tion Project, have issued fact sheets out­lin­ing ques­tions, answers and risks related to the deferred action pro­gram. Any immi­grant who has a crim­i­nal con­vic­tion in his or her back­ground should strongly con­sider con­sult­ing an immi­gra­tion attor­ney to assess the risks. Immi­gra­tion attor­neys, mean­while, are a twit­ter about how best to nav­i­gate the pro­gram and even how much to charge on forums such as ILW.com.
For those liv­ing under the radar, though, the ques­tion is whether an appli­ca­tion will alert author­i­ties to your pres­ence down the road, when per­haps a new pres­i­den­tial admin­is­tra­tion will change the rules of the game.
For now though, those dar­ing to dream of legal res­i­dency and work autho­riza­tion are wel­come to call for a free consultation.

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