How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California
Photo by stevechihos/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Since Wednesday, young undocumented immigrants have been filling out and sending in applications for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status under a new Obama administration plan that will allow those who qualify to obtain work permits and be protected from deportation, at least for two years until they have to renew.
But for some who would otherwise qualify, the news came a little too late. Among other requirements, like having a clean record and having resided in the United States for at least five years, applicants need to have been under 16 when they arrived in the country, and must have been no older than 30 when the policy was announced last June 15.
A post last month titled "You're too old for deferred action - now what?" addressed what might happen to those who missed the age criteria, but have still been in the U.S. since they were children. The final rules were not out yet then, leaving room for a small amount of hope for these so-called "elder DREAMers," so named because they would have benefited from the original Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act introduced in 2001.
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
Twenty-year-old Claudia Naranjo, right, consults with her brother, Juan, during a deferred action workshop at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, August 14, 2012
Over the last few days, my KPCC colleague Ruxandra Guidi and I have spoken with several young people planning to apply for deferred action, temporary legal status that will allow those who qualify to avoid deportation for two years and obtain a work permit.
The new policy, announced two months ago by the Obama administration, isn't a cure-all for young undocumented immigrants, some of whom have been here since infancy. There is no path to citizenship or permanent legal status, for starters, and there is no guarantee the program will continue long-term, especially if there is a change of administration.
Deferred action must also be renewed every two years. The requirements are strict: Among other things, applicants must have arrived in the U.S. before turning 16, have been no older than 30 as of last June 15, have a clean record and be able to prove they have been living in the United States for at least five years.
Photo by pinprick/Flickr (Creative Commons)
Copies of bills, such as utility bills, are among the documents that deferred action applicants can use to help document five years of residence in the U.S.
During the past two months, ever since the Obama administration announced it would allow young undocumented immigrants to apply for temporary legal status starting today, perhaps the most onerous part of the process for applicants has been procuring the paperwork they'll need to document that they meet the requirements for eligibility.
The requirements are strict. Along with their application, sent in by mail, applicants filing Form-I821D need to provide paper-trail evidence. According to instructions posted yesterday on uscis.gov, the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, deferred action applicants must file "evidence and supporting documents" showing they:
Entered the U.S. without inspection before last June 15, or had their lawful immigration status expire as of that date; are at least 15 at the time of filing the application; arrived in the U.S. before age 16; were born after June 15, 1981 (were not age 31 or older on June 15, 2012); have continuously resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007; were present in the U.S. on June 15, 2012.
Photo by Leslie Berestein Rojas/KPCC
A man holds a list of guidelines during a deferred action applicants' workshop at the Mexican consulate in Los Angeles, Aug. 14, 2012
Today is the day that young undocumented immigrants may begin filing applications for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that is part of a new Obama administration policy announced in June. As many as 1.76 million people under 31 could be eligible, according to one recent estimate, and heavy demand is anticipated as applications start coming in.
Those who have been preparing the necessary paperwork have been getting ready since June, most recently with the help of detailed guidelines. As of yesterday afternoon, the application form* went up on uscis.gov, the website of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, along with instructions on how to apply. Here are the basics as to who may file Form I-821D:
1. Childhood Arrivals Who Have Never Been in Removal Proceedings
If you have never been in removal proceedings, but were in unlawful status as of June 15, 2012, submit this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case. For deferred action for childhood arrivals, unlawful status means your lawful immigration status expired as of June 15, 2012, or you entered the United States without inspection. You must be 15 years of age or older at the time of filing and meet the guidelines described in the Secretary's memorandum to be considered for deferred action.
2. Childhood Arrivals Whose Removal Proceedings Were Terminated
If you were in removal proceedings which have been terminated by the immigration judge prior to this request, you may use this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case. You must be 15 years of age or older at the time of filing and meet the guidelines described in the Secretary's memorandum to be considered for deferred action.
3. Childhood Arrivals In Removal Proceedings, With a Final Removal Order, or With Voluntary Departure
If you are currently in removal proceedings, have a final removal order, or have a voluntary departure order, you may use this form to request that USCIS consider deferring action in your case, even if you are under the age of 15 at the time of filing. You must also meet the requirements described in the Secretary's memorandum, including the requirement that you were not age 31 or older on June 15, 2012, to be considered for deferred action.
For the past two months, at least hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants have been rushing to compile the paperwork they'll need to apply for deferred action, a form of temporary legal status that's part of a new Obama administration policy announced in June. More than a million young people who arrived in the United States before age 16 could begin applying come Wednesday, when the federal applications become available.
It's a complicated process, though. There are strict criteria involving age (those who were over 30 as of June 15 can't apply), the applicant's date of illegal entry or loss of legal status, criminal history and other aspects. There are also concerns about cost, not only for critics of the plan, but for applicants, as it isn't cheap - there is a $465 processing fee to apply.