Dallas, TX (Law Firm Newswire) September 20, 2012 – On August 15, 2012, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began accepting requests for the new Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The program allows for certain undocumented immigrants who arrived in the United States as children to apply for deferment of any removal action for a period of two years. The decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and are a matter of prosecutorial discretion.
Dallas immigration attorney Stewart Rabinowitz offered cautious support for the program.
“DACA represents a most significant opportunity for undocumented young people: the chance to come out from the shadows, legally remain in the U.S. and be eligible for employment authorization,” said Rabinowitz. “While seemingly straight-forward in the application process, all parts contain risk, especially for those youth with an arrest record or a criminal conviction. Even for those persons without a record, concern for non-qualifying siblings and other family members should give pause to some.”
Rabinowitz added, “What if Mitt Romney wins in November? Will he reverse a DACA benefit? Appropriately documenting the application may be an issue for others. After all, the government is merely delaying removal and granting a benefit to those for whom removal is a low priority. This is no amnesty.”
As of early September 2012, estimates are that there have been somewhere between 40,000 to 70,000 DACA filings made with USCIS. This is well below the massive, initial number of 250,000 filings USCIS has been braced to receive, bearing out that many potentially qualified DACA applicants are taking a “wait and see” approach.
While the DACA process does not grant lawful status, a path to permanent residence nor citizenship, it provides a two-year, renewable deferment of removal and employment authorization. The program applies only to undocumented immigrants who meet certain conditions.
Applicants must have arrived in the United States before reaching the age of 16 years, have lived in the country from June 15, 2007 to the present and be 30 years of age or younger as of June 15, 2012. In addition, applicants must be attending school or have received a diploma, have been discharged honorably from the armed services and have no record of felonies or significant misdemeanors.
Rabinowitz & Rabinowitz, P.C.
14901 Quorum Drive, Suite 580
Dallas, Texas 75254