After a year, deferred action applications lower than expected
Many young people who could benefit from deferred action have not submitted applications, signaling that the federal government may need to do more outreach to eligible immigrants.
August 20, 2013 /24-7PressRelease/ -- After a year, deferred action applications lower than expected
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A year ago, President Obama announced a landmark initiative designed to provide employment authorization to young immigrants who were brought to the United States without legal authorization. The policy also protects these immigrants from being deportedsolely on the basis of being in the country without legal authorization.
The program -- called Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- is one of the biggest protections offered to young undocumented immigrants in recent memory. However, many young people who could benefit from the program have not submitted applications, signaling that the federal government may need to do more outreach to eligible immigrants.
This is as true in Utah as it is anywhere else in the country. According to information published in the Deseret News, immigration experts estimate that there could be anywhere between 8,500 and 13,000 undocumented immigrants in Utah who qualify for DACA protections. As of the end of March, 2013, though, only about 5,400 people have applied. Of those, just over 3,400 had their applications approved.
Nationwide, there have been about 472,000 applications filed between August 2012 and March 2013.
Experts suggest that some qualified immigrants may have been waiting to gauge the political climate after the 2012 election, while others have been working to save up money for the $465 application fee. But the biggest hurdle can likely be traced back to misunderstandings about who qualifies for the program and how it can be of benefit.
Qualifying for DACA
Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals is available to immigrants who were brought to the United States without legal authorization and who meet the following criteria:
-Arrived in the United States before age 16.
-Are younger than 31 as of June 15, 2012.
-Have maintained continuous physical presence in the United States since June 15, 2007.
-Are currently enrolled in school, have gotten a high school diploma or GED, or have been honorably discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces.
-Have no felony or serious misdemeanor convictions, and have less than three misdemeanor convictions.
Immigrants who wish to apply for DACA protections must submit an application to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Immigrants may submit applications even if they are currently in removal proceedings.
In addition to providing work authorization and deportation protection, deferred action also "stops the clock" with regard to unlawful presence in the U.S. This can have a number of positive effects in later immigration proceedings.
However, DACA isn't for everyone, and there are some risks to applying. If you or a loved one may be eligible for the program, it is advisable to work with an experienced immigration attorney who can ensure that the process is completed correctly.
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