Innocent Look
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There is a lot of excitements about the new “deferred action” granted to young undocumented immigrants. Issued on June 15, 2012 by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the directive provides a “Deferred Action Process,” which means “discretionary determination to defer removal action of an individual as an act of prosecutorial discretion” (USCIS, Deferred Action Process, FAQS, dated 06/18/2012).

Under the directive, children, who were brought to this country illegally through no fault of their own, can avail themselves of this relief from being removed from the United States.  It does not mean they will be given “green cards” or permanent resident status; it is only a temporary relief from being removed from this country because of their illegal status.

NOT ALL undocumented children are eligible.  Here are the criteria:  (1)  the child was under 16 years old upon entry into the US; (2)  Five-year continuous residence prior to  June 15, 2012 and  present in the US on the same date; (3)  currently in school, graduated from high school,  obtained a GED, or an  honorably discharged veteran of the Coast Guard or Armed Forces ; (4) no conviction of a felony offense, a significant misdemeanor offense, multiple misdemeanor offense, or otherwise pose a threat to national security or public safety; and (5)  not over 30 years old.

Based on the criteria, the two focal points of interest are:

I. Felony or misdemeanor conviction. Conviction for a federal, state or local criminal offense punishable by imprisonment of more than one year (felony)  is a disqualification.  If imprisonment is less than one year, he/she is still ineligible because it is classified as a “significant misdemeanor.”

Even without imprisonment, it is still a “significant misdemeanor” when one commits a crime of violence, threats or assault, domestic violence, sexual abuse or exploitation, burglary, larceny or fraud, DUI (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs), obstruction of justice or bribery, unlawful flight from arrest, prosecution or the scene of an accident, unlawful possession or use of a firearm, drug distribution or trafficking or unlawful possession of drugs.  Lastly, one who is convicted of three or more other misdemeanors occurring at different times and not arising from the same act, is also disqualified.

II. Documentation. There’s a requirement to prove schooling, residence and presence in the US for the specified years and dates.

The following documents may be submitted:  School, financial, medical, employment and military records.  Specifically, the school records required include diplomas, GED certificates, report cards and school transcripts.

For more information on this new directive, we urge our readers to call the USCIS hotline 1-800-375-5283 or 1-888-351-4024.

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Maria Rita Reyes-Stuby
Maria Rita Reyes-Stuby is a licensed attorney in Michigan. She is a graduate of the University of the Philippines College of Law. She specializes in immigration and practices in Las Vegas, Michigan, California and other states.

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