How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Waiting to be approved for deferred action? Your notice could be in the mail

Sean Nash/Flickr (Creative Commons-licensed)

If you're one of the many people who applied early on for temporary legal status under deferred action last month, there's a small chance that your approval notice - provided your application was approved - is in the mail.

If so, then you would be in a tiny minority of 29 applicants whose cases have already been adjudicated, but more notices should be on the way soon. Here's what U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced today in a statement:

In the past week, USCIS has completed adjudication of 29 requests and has more than 1600 ready for review.

USCIS is committed to adjudicating requests that fulfill the guidelines of the deferred action for childhood arrivals process consistent with the thorough review USCIS applies to all requests.  All background checks, biometric information and supporting documentation must be completed before a request will be sent to an adjudicator for review.

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A deferred action reality check: How is the process working, who is hesitating, and why?

Deferred Action

Josie Huang/KPCC

Young people attend a recent orientation for hopeful deferred action applicants in Los Angeles.

This week, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced that since the application process started Aug. 15, some 72,000 undocumented young people have filed for temporary legal status via deferred action

The program, introduced by the Obama administration in June, provides a temporary reprieve from deportation - but no path to citizenship - for those who meet certain criteria, including that they arrived in the United States as minors under 16, have a clean record, have lived here five consecutive years and were no older than 30 as of June 15.

The first of the responses from USCIS to applicants have reportedly begun tricking out this week; so far, though, local immigrant advocates say no applicants they have worked with directly have received the news.

Other are still in the paperwork-gathering process, or waiting to apply. And some have hesitated. Although 72,000 is a substantial number of applications, some observers have noted it's relatively low given estimates that close to 2 million people could potentially qualify.

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Democrats call once more for comprehensive immigration reform, but how feasible is it?

US-VOTE-2012-DEMOCRATIC CONVENTION

Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Demonstrators hold signs supporting undocumented immigrants during a rally in Charlotte, NC ahead of the Democratic National Convention, Sept. 2, 2012

As its national convention commences, the Democratic party is pushing a platform that again calls for comprehensive immigration reform. As expected, its tone is far different from that of the stricter, enforcement-based platform embraced by the Republican party.

But it begs the larger question of whether comprehensive immigration reform is politically feasible, even now. As recent history has shown, it's one thing to discuss it, but getting this through Congress is a very tough sell.

In 2006 during the Bush administration, the imminent promise of broad immigration reforms, coupled with stringent proposals that didn't take, drove hundreds of thousands to rally for immigration reform in cities around the country. When it didn't materialize, the immigration reform lobby regrouped, with different factions pushing for smaller changes that have manifested themselves as policies like deferred action, a new plan that promises temporary legal status for qualifying young people.

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More lenient immigration measures, but not all officials feel obligated to comply

sheriff's

Photo by Pyrat Wesly/Flickr (Creative Commons)

The sign at one Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department substation, June 2011

Federal and state officials may be pushing through more lenient immigration policies lately, but this doesn't necessarily mean that officials beneath them plan to comply.

This is what's been happening in Arizona and other states since the Obama administration began accepting applications last week for deferred action, a plan that promises temporary legal status for young undocumented immigrants who qualify. Since last week, Gov. Jan Brewer of Arizona and officials in some other states have resisted, saying they won't grant driver's licenses or other benefits to deferred action recipients.

The same sort of resistance, but to a different plan, is now taking shape in California, where a bill known as the TRUST Act (for “Transparency and Responsibility Using State Tools”) is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown's desk after clearing the state Assembly last week. The measure proposes placing limits on who local and state cops can hold for immigration authorities, restricting it to only those convicted of a felony or other serious crime. The measure came out of opposition to Secure Communities, a federal immigration enforcement program that allows the fingerprints of people booked by local agencies to be shared with immigration officials.

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Anti-deferred action lawsuit brought by ICE agents and activists

A lawsuit filed today against top Homeland Security officials by immigration agents opposed to deferred action, which promises to grant temporary legal status to some young undocumented immigrants, has the support of high-profile immigration restriction advocates.

SB 1070 legal author and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing a handful of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents led by Chris Crane, president of the ICE agents' union, in a lawsuit alleging that the new Obama administration policy directs ICE agents to violate federal immigration laws or face consequences on the job. Legal costs are being paid by NumbersUSA, an immigration restriction advocacy group in Arlington, Virginia.

It's not the first time the ICE union has complained about recent Obama administration immigration policies that aren't tied to enforcement, but rather offer leniency to some otherwise deportable immigrants. Earlier this year, the agents' union protested the administration's implementation of prosecutorial discretion guidelines aimed at weeding out non-criminal immigrants who might be spared from deportation.

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