My law office has been deluged with inquiries about the important policy announced by the Obama Administration allowing certain young aliens in illegal immigration status to be granted a kind of legal relief, get work permits, social security numbers, drivers’ licenses and also be able to travel abroad.
We have received a lot of requests for appointments or consultations by telephone for applicants to get more details. What I will do here is provide helpful relevant general information and some important details but it is always advisable for applicants or their parents or guardians to see a competent, honest and affordable immigration attorney before applying. Getting it right on immigration matters is so important to an applicant’s future.
Q. What is the rationale for Obama’s “Deferred Action” policy?
A. It’s essentially a humanitarian as well as practical policy which is good for people as well as for the country. Hundreds of thousands of young people were brought to the US when they were children through no fault of their own. They were raised here, went to school here and are culturally American.
It would be unfair to them and a waste of human potential not to give them opportunities for a decent future – for them to flower to their best capabilities in various endeavors and fields that benefit them as well as the nation and humanity.
Consider the intelligence and talents of so many of these individuals in the arts, music, sciences, philosophy, literature, sports, etc. For a society to deny the God-given talents of a young Einstein, Beethoven, Picasso or a Hemingway – who was brought here as an innocent child – simply because he is of a different nationality or race – is like refusing manna from heaven.
Unfortunately, partisan politics and racial prejudices often blind many from seeing the good in what is obviously a sensible practical humanitarian policy. Throughout history, short sighted prejudiced individuals fearful or resentful of newcomers – have unleashed hardships on immigrants, persecuting and making lives difficult for them. The reality is that America is a nation of immigrants from all over the world who made this country the great nation that it is.
So many great Americans are immigrants or have come from immigrant stock: President John Kennedy, physicist Albert Einstein, Architect I.M. Pei, journalist publisher Joseph Pulitzer, naturalist John Muir, former Secretary of State Madeline Albright, songwriter Irving Berlin, basketball star Hakeem Olajuwan, Catholic saint Frances Cabrini, movie director Ang Lee, landscape painter Edward Bannister.
These are just a few of thousands of immigrants or whose parents were once immigrants. Many were once illegal immigrants escaping from political oppression or economic deprivation in their own countries.
Q. What are the general qualifications for applicants?
A. They must meet the following qualifications: Arrived in the US before the age of 16; Must have been in the US at least 5 years before June 15, 2012; Be a person of good moral character (no major crimes or serious misdemeanors); At least 15 years old unless applicant is in removal (deportation) proceedings in immigration court in which case younger applicants can apply; Must be younger than 31 years old when applying; Be in school or graduated from High School or have a GED certificate or be a US Armed Forces veteran; Not a threat to national security.
Q. If one came here before the age of 16 but has not yet been here for five years, can he still apply in the future when he has been here 5 years?
A. Unfortunately no. He must have been here at least 5 years on June 15, 2012.
Q. Are those who committed crimes automatically excluded?
A. It depends on the crimes. Best to consult with a competent immigration lawyer. Waivers might also be available.
Q. What if the applicant is not in school or not a High School graduate or does not have a GED certificate?
A. If he re-enrolls in school, he can still apply while enrolled.
Q. How long will my employment authorization last?
A. As long as your two year “Deferred Action” status which is renewable prior to expiration. This will entitle you to a Social Security Card, a driver’s license or a state ID.
Q. Do I need prior permission to travel abroad once I get this status?
A. Yes. You need to apply for an “Advance Parole Visa”. This is normally given for family emergency, educational or business reasons.
Q. If my application is denied, will the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) use info on my application against me or my family members who are also in illegal immigration status and subject us to removal (deportation) proceedings?
A. No. This would be unfair and against public policy and keep many from filing for fear of repercusssions.
These are some of the more important information and details on this new Department of Homeland Security policy regarding young undocumented immigrants. Including so many other details would take up so many words and space that can only be done in a lengthier article.
Note: The State Bar of California honors Atty. Ted Laguatan as one of only 29 US lawyers officially certified continuously for more than 25 years as Specialists-Experts in Immigration Law. He also does human rights, accident injuries, wrongful death and complex litigation cases. For communications (San Francisco area): 455 Hickey Blvd., Ste. 516, Daly City, Ca 94015. Tel 650 991 1154, Email firstname.lastname@example.org