On June 15, 2012, the Obama Administration announced changes to the country's immigration policy that will protect thousands of young immigrants from deportation for a two year period, which could be renewed. Additionally, these individuals will be able to apply for authorization to work in the United States. You can read the memo released by the White House by clicking here.
The Deferred Action Process is a much needed change to the policy that will allow young people who were brought to the country as children and do not pose any threat to public safety or national security to avoid deportation for two years, with the possibility of having their protection renewed. The Department of Homeland Security has been taken recent steps to focus their attention on high-risk individuals, rather than misusing the nation's security resources on low priority cases of hardworking immigrants who contribute to the success of this country.
In order to qualify, a young person must meet the following criteria:
- Entered the United States before the age of sixteen
- Resided continually in the United States for at least five years prior to the date of this memorandum
- Currently a student, has graduated from high school, has achieved a general education development certificate, or is a veteran of the United States Armed Forces or Coast Guard who was honorably discharged
- Never convicted of a felony offense, multiple misdemeanor crimes, a significant misdemeanor crime, and otherwise poses no threat to public safety or national security
- Currently thirty years of age or younger
This executive order is similar in some aspects to the DREAM Act, which is a legislative proposal that, if passed by Congress, would offer conditional permanent residency to illegal immigrants who meet similar qualifications. Under this act, certain undocumented individuals could obtain temporary residency for six years, with the possibility of achieving permanent residency.