The relief is called “Deferred Action.”
Today President Obama and the Department of Homeland Security announced that people between the ages of 15 and 30 who were brought to the United States as young children will no longer be removed (i.e., deported) from the country or placed in removal proceedings if they meet certain criteria. “Deferred action” means the government will defer any removal action as an act of prosecutorial discretion.
Deferred action does NOT give a person lawful immigration status. A person who has been granted deferred action can, however, apply for employment authorization. Deferred action will last for a period of two years and can be renewed.
Our office is already receiving calls about the “new law passed by President Obama.” There is no new law. This is a matter of government policy, and if a new president is elected in November, he or she can change that policy. And the new policy is not yet fully in effect. The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies have been instructed to implement the new policy within 60 days, and we understand some of their offices have already begun to do so.
In order to be eligible, a person must:
Have come to the US before the age of sixteen;
Have continuously resided in the United States for a least five years before June 15, 2012 and be in the US on that date;
Be currently in school, or have graduated from high school, or have obtained a general education development certificate, or be an honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or the US Armed Forces;
Have not been convicted of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offenses, or otherwise pose any threat to national security or public safety; and
Not be above age thirty.
People who qualify for this relief, and who are already under orders of removal, can be granted deferred action regardless of their ages.
The policy is laid out in a June 15, 2012 Memorandum from Janet Napolitano, Secretary of Homeland Security. Extensive additional information can be found in the DHS announcement and Frequently Asked Questions published today on the DHS website.
Beginning Monday, June 18, people can also call USCIS’ hotline at 1-800-375-5283 or ICE’s hotline at 1-888-351-4024 during business hours with questions about the new process.