Deferred Action for DREAMers

The Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act is a federal legislative proposal dating back to 2001 that would grant conditional permanent residency to certain illegal aliens considered to possess good moral character who arrived in the United States as minors, graduated from United States high schools, and lived in the United States continuously for at least five years before the bill’s enactment. The proposed bill would offer additional benefits to members of this group who serve in the armed forces or receive an honorable discharge. Congress did not pass the DREAM Act.

In the summer of 2012, however, President Barack Obama announced that in accordance with his prosecutorial discretion powers, his administration would suspend (or defer action on) deportation of certain illegal aliens and would also grant them work authorizations for two years, after which time they may be able to renew the deferred action status.

Eligibility for Deferred Action

There are 1.8 million individuals in the United States that meet the criteria to apply for the two-year deferred action status offered by the president. These individuals are sometimes called “DREAMers” because they generally meet the criteria for the DREAM Act that Congress has not passed. Maryland has about 21,371 potential beneficiaries of the President’s action. About 11,266 are immediate beneficiaries who could apply now.

To qualify as a DREAMer for purposes of the president’s announcement, an illegal alien must:

  • Have come to the United States before age 16;
  • Have been between the ages of 14 and 30 on June 15, 2012;
  • Have been in the United States for at least five years as of June 15, 2012,
  • Currently be in school, have graduated from high school, have obtained a general education development certificate (GED), or have been honorably discharged from the United States armed forces; and
  • Not have been convicted of a felony, nor convicted of a significant misdemeanor nor convicted of more than two misdemeanors, nor pose a threat to national security or public safety.

Both undocumented immigrant minors who have never had an encounter with United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and individuals already in removal or deportation proceedings may apply.

Each application is determined on a case-by-case basis. USCIS put together the program for deferred action within 60 days and started accepting applications on August 15, 2012.

Deferred Action Can Be Complex

A common misconception is that the deferred action is amnesty. Deferred action is not a permanent residency, nor does it allow immigrants to bring over family members. The prosecutorial discretion involved in deferred action is available to the president under existing immigration law. Presidents of both parties before President Obama’s 2012 announcement had used prosecutorial discretion in immigration matters.

The deferred action eligibility criteria described above may seem clear. However, there have been fewer applications than expected for this type of relief, largely due to applicants’ inability to secure a Maryland Deferred Action Eligibility attorney  to help with the process. Immigration law is complicated, and it is possible that your application for deferred action may lead to adverse consequences that an attorney can help you better understand and weigh against the benefits of that status.

If you or someone you love would like to apply for the two-year deferred action status available to DREAMers, consult the experienced Maryland Deferred Action Eligibility attorneys at the office of Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC right away. The consultation process is private and confidential. Contact us by phone at (301) 519-2801, or online today.