On June 15, 2012, DHS Secretary Napolitano issued a memorandum announcing The Obama administration’s deferred action initiative. For fifty days, the country had minimal details on the initiative. The only information the public had was that the deferment would be for a two-year period to certain undocumented youths who came to the U.S. as children and who meet several other criteria. Late last week, USCIS issued revised FAQs and detailed guidelines which prove to be more than helpful.
Deferred Action Guidelines
It was made clear since June that the deferred action immigration
process does not allow a path to citizenship but is a temporary relief from deportation only to those individuals who were brought into the country before their sixteenth birthday and have come to consider the United States as their home. According to the updated guidelines, applications will be made available on August 15 and the total cost will amount to $464. Applicants must provide physical evidence that they have lived in the country for at least five years and the previous criteria still stand, including but not limited to not being above the age of thirty-one; being currently in school or having graduated or obtained a GED, or being an honorably discharged of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces; and not having been convicted of a felony, significant misdemeanor, three or more other misdemeanors, and not otherwise posing a threat to national security or public safety. Additionally, those who are planning on applying for deferred action for childhood arrivals are urged to wait until the application is made available on August 15; if an individual applies beforehand, the application will be rejected. The guidelines further specify that USCIS retains the ultimate discretion in not only granting deferred action to childhood arrivals, but also in renewing deferment or retracting deferment.
DEFERRED ACTION PROCESS
This process, however, seemingly evades the continuous and tedious stalemate witnessed in Congress over the DREAM Act. Since the announcement in June, there have been many arguments that this initiative is merely a political move made by the Obama Administration during a crucial moment in wake of the presidential elections later this year. Nonetheless, the administration proclaims that it remains committed to comprehensive immigration reform, urging that in order to have an efficient system, these initial steps are integral. Additionally, USCIS emphasized in the updated guidelines: “only the Congress, acting through its legislative authority, can confer the certainty that comes with a pathway to permanent lawful status.”