28 June 2012
Immigrants May No Longer Live in Fear
Approximately 800,000 immigrants will not live in fear of deportation due to an Obama Administration policy change, which states that the US will no longer deport young law abiding illegal immigrants who have been in the US for at least five years.
Conditions to Be Met Before You Apply
Janet Napolitano, the Secretary of Homeland Security, affirmed this policy change. DHS’s new directive states that if a young illegal immigrant does not pose a threat to national security or public safety, and meets certain criteria, then s/he will be eligible to receive deferred action from deportation.
DHS’s new directive mandates that individuals must meet the following conditions in order to qualify for deferred action:
1. Came to the United States under the age of sixteen;
2. Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years preceding the date of this memorandum and are present in the United States on the date of this memorandum;
3. Are currently in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate, or are honorably discharged veterans of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces of the United States;
4. Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety;
5. Are not above the age of thirty.
Illegal immigrants who meet this criteria will have legal status for two years in the US, but will have to reapply every two years. They will also be able to apply for work authorization. However, this is not a direct pathway to citizenship or permanent residency.
One of the dangers lurking in the shadows is the fact that applicants may have to disclose not only their own names but names of family members, who may be ineligible for any immigrant benefits because of their lack of status in the US. The danger is that once these relatives and family members have been disclosed, they can be deported or charged with crimes for which they have not yet been charged or arrested by law enforcement.
A significant misdemeanor is either punishable by less than a year in prison or no imprisonment. Significant misdemeanors include violence, threats or assault, specifically domestic violence; sexual abuse or exploitation; burglary, larceny or fraud; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; obstruction of justice or bribery; unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution or the scene of an accident; unlawful or use of a firearm; drug distribution or trafficking; or unlawful possession of drugs.
Individuals convicted of three or more other misdemeanors, not committed on the same day or arising out of the same act, are not eligible for deferred action. This means that if the individual has not committed a significant misdemeanor listed above, but has been convicted of three “simple” misdemeanors not on the same day — can be three different days or three different incidents –can be similarly ineligible for deferred action under the new process.
Individuals will have to jump through several hoops in order to qualify for an EAD under deferred action.
DUIs are becoming a more significant crime that USCIS is targeting as a disqualification for immigration benefits.
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